How to Maintain Your Zen During Summer Chaos

School's out for summer (hopefully you sang that)! Okay, maybe not quite yet, but soon. The kids are home. What do we do now?! When I had a more traditional nine to five job, the summer schedule was pretty much the same as the rest of the year, just with extra childcare. Now that I work from home and have a less traditional schedule, it calls for a little more creativity. We have things planned. This summer will end with a road trip to drop the oldest “kiddo” at the University of Nebraska. Before then, we will take our traditional summer road trip, and the youngest two will do a couple weeks of camp. There will also be swimming lessons, continued tutoring, family in town, but to fill the gaps, it's "Camp Mom."

I always find myself both dreading and excited for summer break. Since my kids are older, they are fairly independent, so I'm able to take them to the park without hovering and enjoy sitting on the beach without worrying about how much sand they are eating. The dread comes from knowing I have to plan activities, and revise our usual schedule for the short amount of time everyone is home for the summer, all while balancing my work schedule and making sure I am able to get everything done and fulfill my commitments. The excitement comes from knowing I get to plan activities and we get to have a more flexible schedule for the summer. I decided I needed to make a plan to keep us on track and trick the kids into thinking having a schedule is a fun summer activity! 

Here's what I came up with:

Make a summer "bucket list." I have been adding things to a list in my phone whenever I hear/read about something that sounds like it would be fun for the summer. (Thanks to Queen of the Land of Twigs and Berries for this brilliant idea!) I'm going to have the kids each pick a couple things they want to do and we'll create a list we can check off over the summer.

Responsibility charts. The kids all have jobs they do around the house during the school year, but during the summer, when they are home more, we add to them.

Daily schedules. Each night, before bed, we're going to sit down and plan out the next day. My youngest is currently working on elapsed time and paying attention to the clock, so this exercise will also help him master that skill. All of the kids like to know what "the plan" is, so this way they can help map out the day, know what's coming up and be ready for it. These daily schedules will also include time for keeping their little brains sharp. Sorry kids, no slacking during the summer!

Plan out the week with my husband. To lessen the crazy during the week, I plan to keep my husband in the loop and ask for help when I need it. I'm really bad at this and trying to be better. I already know there are several days when two or more of us need to be in multiple places at the same time, and that is going to require coordination!

All of these ideas can be adapted for younger kids as well. Kids crave structure from a young age and like to participate in the planning process. Find what works for your family and keep it as simple or as structured as you like.

I really do love the summer and the extra time I get to spend with my kiddos. They are all growing up so fast, so I very much want to cherish this time and cram as much fun into the summer as possible. Just want to make sure I don't lose my mind while doing it!

 

Powering Down: The Importance of Getting Enough Sleep

Is your child getting enough sleep?  We are phasing out of the days where kids run around all day and play outside until the street lights come on.  In today’s world, a lot of kids are entertaining themselves in a new way and it may be affecting their sleep.  About 75% of elementary and middle school children have access to some type of electronic device in their bedroom.  The extra stimulation, light and sound can make it harder for children to relax and get enough sleep.

The solution?

Try to limit screen time at night and at least 1 hour before bedtime.  Instead, try unplugged activities like reading, games, exercise or quiet time.  Keep in mind, adults should lead by example in this department and use the time as quality time with family.

Lack of sleep can lead to decreased concentration in school, a weakened immune system, increased risk for obesity and moodiness.  Kids ages 5 to 12 should be getting at least 10 to 11 hours of sleep.  So, let’s power down at night so we can power up in the morning for a successful day!

Kids Say the Darnedest Things!

As a nanny for the past 8 years there are so many reasons I love my job. Being able to play a
role in so many different children's development and foster their growing can be incredibly
rewarding. I’ve always been so grateful to have my nanny kids in my life because no matter
what is happening at home, no matter how serious life gets these kids always...and I mean
ALWAYS find a way to cheer me up (and they don’t even know they are doing it!).
I recently decided to ask a few of my fellow nanny friends to participate in a series of questions
to see how their kiddos would respond and it absolutely gave me a good laugh and I hope it does for you too.

(G-Girl B-Boy- -Number is their age)
Question #1- Why do you like being a kid?
Answers-

B4: “I get to do fun things”
G7: “I don’t like being a kid because I have to listen to mommy
and daddy. I want to be a grown up so I can tell my mommy and daddy
what to do and make my own decisions”
B3: “I am just 3; I am a boy not 16!”
G7: “That I don’t have to do a lot of homework”

Question #2- One word to describe you would be _________
Answers-

G7: “Fashionable”
B4: “Strong”
B3: “ **Insert kids name here** “
B9: “Awesome”

Questions #3- If you could be an animal which one would you be and why?
Answers-

G7: “Unicorn because they are magical like me”
B4: “A rat so I could go flat and go under doors”
G7: “A dolphin. They swim all day”
G3: “A doggie”


Question #4- What do you like to do for fun?
Answers-

G2: “Park!”
B4: “Play with Mommy”
G6: “I like to do my makeup”
B4.5: “Going on the swings at school”


Quesion #5- What's the nicest thing you’ve done for someone?
Answers-

B4: “Eating someone's food for them when they don’t want it all”

G7: “Gave up my best friend for someone”
B4: “Smile and wave and say hi to everyone”
B3: “It’s not nice to scream and shout and you have to get out of
the bath if you do”

Question #6- What do you think you’ll be doing in 10 years?
Answers-

G2: “I’m gonna give shots”
G7: “Walking down the red carpet”
B4: “Be a daddy and a jungle explorer”
B9: “College”

Question #7- What do you think makes a person good looking?
Answers-

G7: “Having Abs and being kind”
B4: “Their boobies”
G7: “Their smile”
B9, G6, B4.5: "Having good hair”


Questions #8- What's the grossest thing you can think of?
Answers-

G4, G2, G7, B9, B3.5: “Poop”
G7, B4.5, G7, G6: “Boogers”
B9: “Grandmas Feet”
B4: “Kissing someone on the mouth”

I wish I could sit around and ask different kiddos these questions all day. Their responses are
priceless!
Plus… are they wrong?! ;D

Author: Kathryn Eastin

Why Is a Bedtime Routine So Important?

Thanks to Aimi Palmer of My Little Sleeper for being our guest blogger this week. Aimi is a child sleep consultant and works with families in Chicago to bring a better nights sleep to the whole family.

Here's what the professional has to say...

A consistent bed time routine is as much for you as it is for your baby. If they know what's coming they will be more accepting of sleep. A routine can also help establish good sleep habits which encourages etter slee. For you, having a routine means less thinking - especially important if you have had a long day.

Everyone's a winner! Now what should your routine look like? Here are some tips to create a serene bedtime routine.

● What should be included in the routine?

Bath: You don't need to bathe your baby daily, but some children love water so it's a great way for them to unwind at the end of the day. For older toddlers it's also a great way to get some learning in with foam letters, colored balls or a science experience with water jugs.

Massage: Bonding with your child, whether they're an infant or a toddler, is a perfect way to end the day. Massage is a calming time that allows your baby to relax and prepare for sleep.

Brushing teeth: Dentists will agree that oral hygiene can start before your baby has teeth. Use age appropriate brushes and do this before bath time if you think you may get excess drool from the process.

Reward Chart: If you have a toddler that has a reward chart, do stickers for the day in one go. Extremely satisfying for them if they get multiple stickers at the same time.

Story time: Chose stories that are not too long and are age appropriate. Avoid noise books and pop ups books as this can be too stimulating. See my bed book recommendations for some good book ideas.

Night night sleep tight: ake sure you say good night to everyone - whether this is their sibling or their teddy. Saying good night is important at the end the day so they know that the next step is bed.

● A routine that works for everyone:

Each family has different circumstances when it comes to bed time. One parent may work late so it's a solo event; or the caregiver may start the routine with the parents finishing off. You may have multiple children going down at the same time. Find a routine that works for the whole family. In our house if both my husband and I are home the children bath together, then they get into their pajamas, brush teeth and have stories in their own rooms. They get to say good night to each other then into their beds.

● What happens if you are out late one night?

Stick to your order of events but be flexible. They may get a wash rather than a full bath time routine but don't prevent them from winding down. You want them to be calm going to bed so don't stress on the way home which may cause anxiety. Stick to the same order of events, just a shorter version.

● Why wait - start from day one

There's never any harm in having a bed time routine from the baby's first week. Newborns are so unpredictable that a bedtime routine will provide you with some consistency to your hectic change in life. It will also help if your baby has their days and nights mixed up.

Preparing for bed should be fun and calming for your child. It's the end of the day and time to say good night. Healthy sleep habits will result in better quality of sleep and more rest for everyone.

www.mylittlesleeper.com

Great Expectations

This week's blog post is brought to you by our friends at Third Coast Birth. They offer childbirth education, birth doula support, postpartum and parenting support to Chicago area families.

We love the honesty of this piece. We all had ideas of how we would parent our children before we had them. Some of those ideas worked well, and some had to be thrown out the window once we met our children and discovered their various personalities! Thanks for sharing this truth, Margarita. We certainly can relate!

______________________________________

I had grand ideas about my hypothetical children before I ever met them. I had dedicated the first 12 years of my adult life to a career working with and supporting children and families. I understood kids. I especially understood the kids that gave most adults a hard time. I loved their honesty, their capacity to call bullshit when they saw it, and overall, their unburdened perspective on humanity. I respected them; they respected me.

And then I gave birth to a child very similar to the ones I just described. Except the people who have had a hard time with her are me and her dad, not her teachers, nor her friend’s parents, mostly just us – her parents. My oldest kid is small and mighty, intelligent and opinionated and she takes nothing, and I mean not a single thing, at face value. She is also an empath and an observer. She mirrors the emotions of those around her and for better or for worse, she and I are very in tune with one another’s emotions. This means then, any objectivity I was once capable of as a caregiver becomes completely obliterated by our collective emotions.

Let’s take a step back. I remember the day I graduated with my masters in child development, and a few people said to me:

“You’re going to be an amazing mother!”

Oh, well, thank you. What makes you think that?

“Well, with all this knowledge of children you have, you’ll be so great with your own!”

Hmm, that’s an interesting idea. I didn’t think the information I learned in grad school would actually give me much of an advantage on parenting, quite simply because of the one factor that isn’t present when you’re working with children who don’t live with you: deep rooted emotional connection.

Emotions play a pivotal role in parent-child interactions, I think we can all agree with that concept. The entire purpose of the parent-child relationship within the first 3 years of life is to allow strong social-emotional capacities to flourish within our kids, so that they may be functioning members of society and humanity. That may be a bit harder to swallow, but that’s another discussion for another time. As a non-parent, in my work with kids, it was easier to see each individual child as a whole developing person, rather than as small, irrational and intense humans who lose their minds when you cut their pancakes into triangles instead of squares (even though they specifically asked for triangles and then silently changed their minds during the 5 seconds you assumed the pancake cutting position; true story).

Fact: we cannot be objective with our own kids. We are connected to them on a cellular level, and at a uniquely emotional level that only a parent-child dyad can share. So, what does that mean for our day-to-day parenting interactions with our kids?

In reading this article, from PBS Parents, the following stood out like the kid who has a fresh poop in his diaper in Mom&Baby music class:

“Keep in mind that you can’t actually make your child do anything–eat, sleep, pee, poop, talk, or stop having a tantrum. What you do have control over is how you respond to your child’s actions, as this is what guides and shapes their behavior.”

Wait. What? I know I can’t make my kid do anything, but I thought that I was just doing everything wrong. Not so. I am doing so many things right, and so are you. And if we shift our perspective to accommodate the concept that as parents, we don’t actually run the show, maybe then we can give ourselves the space to have effective and reasonable responses to the ever fluctuating intensity of being the grown up to our 3 year old skeptics, our 4 year old sages and even to our 2 year old tyrants.

The collective expectation in our society: that parents need to single-handedly mold, control, teach our children everything from how to deal with emotion, to how to read and write, to how to pee in a toilet, to how to sleep a socially acceptable number of hours every night, to be polite, etc, is a total farce. It’s time to shift our expectations, folks. And it will be time to shift expectations again every 3-6ish weeks in the first 6 months of life, and then every 4-8ish months thereafter through about age 5. Stay tuned for what that all means in terms of milestones like beginning to sit, crawl, stand, talk first using telegraphic speech and then in full multi-word sentences. It’s a wild ride, but if we stick together, it’s still dramatic and exhausting, but a lot less terrifying.

Keeping Your Kids Healthy During Winter

Winter.

It’s the season for hot chocolates, evenings by a cozy fire, thick snuggly sweaters and of course those unwelcome cooties.

If you’re a Mom like me you probably spend a lot of time thinking about the health and well being of your little one. My daughter luckily has only had one battle with a bug, knock on wood, and I’m so grateful for that!

So, what do you do to help protect yourself and those sweet little ones from an unwanted illness?

Here are some tips and tricks to try whether they’re yours or those precious nanny family kiddos!

Hand Washing:

I know this is a DUH statement, but it is OH so important!

And as well as know sometimes getting kids into hand washing can seem like a daunting task.

  • Have them sing Happy Birthday -- twice -- while they wash
  • Use a kitchen timer or an hourglass to make it fun and accurate
  • Ask them to count to 10 slowly or 20 at a normal pace
  • Let them pick out a hand soap they’re excited about using. The fact that it’s something they got to pick on their own will make it fun for them- especially if it’s a cool scent they enjoy.
  • For younger children, make sure they have a stool to use to make getting to the sink easier.
  • Look for foam versions, kids usually love these

Hand Sanitizers and Essential Oils:

I like to carry around a travel size “hand sanitizer” to use on shopping carts. Sounds weird but I use a good spray of it on a diaper wipe to clean the handles and anything else my little one can stick her hands on. I’m not a germaphobe but those things are a theme park for bugs- so I’m always sure to wipe them clean. There are so many different types to pick from you can even use some of the tips for hand soap and apply them towards hand sanitizer purchases. If your little one is into Frozen or maybe they love the smell of cupcakes- there without a doubt is a fragrance or bottle to match that! Or if you’re like me and into a more natural alternative- then Thieves is an excellent route to take.

Thieve’s is an essential oil blend of lemon, eucalyptus, cinnamon, clove, and rosemary and is a popular choice among essential oil lovers. It’s highly recommend for colds AND flu symptoms because of its anti-bacterial, anti-infectious, anti-viral and antiseptic properties and is known to aid in eliminating symptoms from colds and flu quickly.

Diffusers and Oil’s:

I absolutely love my essential oil diffuser! Every morning I take a few drops of whatever oil I feel would be good to start the day with. This time of year I really enjoy using a citrus and chamomile blend in the mornings, lemon and tangerine are phenomenal. I feel like the citrus wakes you up and make’s you feel refreshed! Lemon essential oil is also a great decongestant and is a well know antiviral agent. Chamomile is gentle and soothing, also great to use if you’ve already come down with an illness because it’s great for aches and pains. I love it because you can even apply a few drops to a warm compress (as directed).

Lavender already has a great reputation because of its flowery, relaxing scent. It’s fabulous for this time of year because of its anti-septic and anti-inflammatory properties. It’s perfect for a neck and shoulder rub to relax tense muscles and ease headaches brought on by stress or colds. You can also place a few drops on your pillow or a cotton ball and place under your pillow to get a better nights sleep. You can also use a carrier oil and create your own decongestant rub. Those are just a few highlights on lavender- there are many other great ways to use this oil!

Eucalyptus is another wonderful oil. It’s your respiratory systems best friend during colds and flu. You can use a few drops in your diffuser to ease breathing through a stuffy nose. Its also perfect for creating your own soothing rub by using a carrier oil.

Besides using essential oils and making sure you keep little hands clean, it’s important to remember that it’s not just what we put on our bodies that has an impact on our health; but what we put into it as well.

I buy a special Vitamin C for my daughter made specifically for little ones under a year of age. I give her the prescribed amount daily to give her immune system that extra boost to ward off germs. I supplement myself daily with Vitamin C, Zinc and B12.

Another lesser know fact is that staying active is actually really beneficial to your immune system.  You don’t need to run a marathon every day either, moderate exercise for just 20 minutes a day is all you need to help keep yourself healthy and guarded against illness this season.

And last but not least, rest!

There are plenty of studies that show how not getting enough sleep each night can seriously effect your overall health and well being.

So, pour yourself a hot cup of chamomile tea, diffuse some lavender- don’t stress (that’s no good for your immune system either!) and get yourself a good nights sleep J Self care is so important for keeping your spirits up and maintaining a strong body. In order to take good care of others we have to remember to take good care of ourselves, too!

Parenting is Exhausting!

Parenting is Exhausting!

We recently took a family road trip. We drove from Chicago to Nashville and had a lot of big fun. Our kids are champs in the car (translation: they watch a ton of movies and play tons of games on their various devices!), and we previously road-tripped to NYC for winter break, so this drive was nothing!  That said, after a long day of driving, my husband was exhausted, the kids wanted to swim and I got to be the one to watch them. Sure, I could have thrown on my suit and jumped in the pool with them, but I just didn't feel like it. As I was sitting there watching them enjoy the pool, I could feel myself growing irritated. Not at them, just cranky in general. So, after the kids were done, I brought them back to the hotel room, changed into my gym clothes, passed the kids off to my hubby and headed to the hotel gym. A half hour on the treadmill was all I needed to feel like myself again. A little sweat, a little quiet, a little kid-free zone. This small amount of time reminded me of how crucial it is for moms to take time for themselves. It isn't always easy, but it's so very important.

Even though we aren't country fans, we had a great time at the Country Music Hall of Fame.

Whether you work in or out of the home, moms seem hardwired to do the majority of the worrying and feeling guilty, and therefore are generally the ones on the back burner. This is not to say that dads don’t kick ass, because they really do, they just seem to be better at taking time for themselves.  So moms, instead of letting ourselves go and/or being resentful of our significant other’s ability to hit pause when needed, I’ve put together a few ideas that will help take great care of you and your little ones, and make your life just a bit easier.  Bonus, these are all mom-owned businesses, so you’ll be taking care of yourself while helping out another mom. Win win!

Sweat it out.  This is my go to. When I can feel myself losing it, I throw on my shoes and hit the gym or head outside for a run.

●     Active Moms Club- Cassandra can help whip you back into shape post baby and beyond. She offers group classes as well as personal training. Her classes are encouraging, engaging, and a great way to meet other moms.

●     Primary Crossfit and Yoga- Located in Uptown, this gym offers the best of both worlds. Sweat your booty off one day and soothe your soul (and body) with yoga the next…or do it all on the same day if you can!

Pamper yourself. My other favorite thing to do. There’s nothing like fresh hair or a fabulous mani/pedi!

●     Nails Boutique- Tucked across Webster Ave. from Oz park, this little gem is my go to. Great conversation is always had and, of course, great nails.

●     Chroma K8- This adorable "beautique" is so environmentally responsible, they used mostly vintage furniture when they remodeled. I have seen some very fabulous hair walk out of this salon, including my own!

Get stuff done. Do you need to drop off the kids for a few hours? All day? Do you need a change of scenery, and a place for your kids to play safely? These places have you covered.

●     Take a Break Playcare- I can't say enough about this genius concept. Clearly mom created! At Take a Break, you can drop in and play (with your kids) for a couple of hours, or you can drop your kids off and actually get something done! They offer care for newborns up to age 13. Genius, just genius.

●     Purple Monkey Playroom- I love the coziness of this play space. Purple Monkey is the perfect alternative to the park on those days when you need to let your kiddos run around, but don't feel like worrying about how much bark they're eating or making sure they don't run into an oncoming swing. The park is great and all, but man, it's exhausting chasing tiny people around! Here, you can have a cup of coffee, chat with other moms and ensure that your little ones are nice and ready for nap time :)

●     Little Beans Cafe- Another great indoor play space, that offers locations in both Chicago and Evanston. This is great for smaller kids, but also offers options for older kids as well.

Birthday help. Once you have kids, you find yourself either going to or planning a party, constantly. My son has three parties to attend in the next week. If you are pressed for time (who isn't?!), these fabulous businesses can help.

●     Building Blocks Toy Store- Katherine and her team are AMAZING. You can call the store (two locations, Wicker Park and Lakeview), tell them what you want, pay over the phone and they will have it wrapped and ready for you to swoop in and pick up en route to the party. Not sure what the perfect gift is? If you give them a price range, and some ideas of what the birthday kiddo is into, they will hand select something for you. It doesn't get any better than that in my book. They also have a great selection of party favors, including personalized items that can be ready in minutes. Also great for teacher gifts and holiday.

●     Chicago Custom Cakes- Libby has a great eye for design and creates the cutest cakes. Whether you need a smash cake for you little one's first birthday, or a more detailed creation of whatever character your older kiddo is currently obsessed with, Chicago Custom Cakes has you covered.

Hopefully this list provides a few helpful options that help you recharge and refresh. You work hard and deserve a break. Pat yourself on the back, wipe the spit-up (or banana, or yogurt, or paint, or...) off your shirt and keep on trucking, mama!

The Reasons I Became an Entrepreneur

The Reasons I became an Entrepreneur

The truth is I was young and fearless. I started my first company when I was 24. I had been a nanny since I was 19 and really felt like I had found my perfect job. Sure, I had people give me the “when are you going to get a real job” face but I felt confident in my chosen career. I had always grown up really just wanting to be a mother. I had never dreamed of running a company and certainly would have not seen my self as an Entrepreneur. But I feel life guides you and priorities change you.

Olive You Nanny was created in 2004, while still being a nanny. I knew this industry, I knew what nannies wanted and worked for many families, so knew what families needed. I took a year to do my research and jumped through the hoops of the department of Labor.

And there I stood….open for business!

 

I was busy immediately. Thankfully we are still busy today, in 5 states and 14 AMAZING ladies who run Olive You.

I had my first son a year after I started OYN. Juggling motherhood was far from easy. I didn’t want to miss the milestones, so working from home was the best of both worlds. Adding two more kiddos to the mix came even more challenges but I’ll save that for another blog post called “How to manage your crazy life with kids and a business!”

As I multitasked through phone calls, diaper changes, nursing while making breakfast, consultations and interviews I thought…I really have it all. Sure, I likely have ADD and have an ongoing list a mile long in my head, dirty laundry piling up, dog hair on the floor but I wouldn’t change a thing. I feel fortunate to have a amazing husband who has a “normal” job and insurance. This is how I make this dream a reality.

It’s a perfect match.

Author: Sarah Davis

sarah pic on stairs for website.jpg

Nanny Backpack Roundup

At the Elm Grove Park this morning with E, I was so annoyed with my oversized crossbody as I went down slides, crouched into small spaces, and ran from playground to sand pit. It got me thinking that a backpack would be a great solution!

E has her own mini backpack that couldn't be cuter, and we do take it everywhere we go, but she doesn't like carrying it herself yet and it most definitely doesn't fit me. So, when we get to our location, I typically take out a diaper, wipes, her snack, and water and shove it in my purse so it's easier to carry. Not ideal! I'm thinking one of these backpacks below may need to be purchased in the near future. Which one is your favorite? 

1. Oh Joy!® Backpack Diaper Bag - Dashes via Target  -  Okay, so this one is technically a diaper bag backpack, and I am in love! If you don't follow Joy Cho of Oh Joy on social media, you should! She is a fun and colorful working mama with stylish collections available at Target. This one may be my favorite because of the inside organization and easy-cleaning nylon. ($39.99)

2. Koed Backpack by Madden Girl via DSW  -  I love this nautical look that is perfect for hauling your nanny essentials or as a carry on on vacation. It's a little less bulky than the rest too, very slide friendly.  ($39.95)

3.  Casanova in Cognac Taupe via Sole Society  -  This backpack is for the ultra hip nanny or mom! It may not be as versatile or easy to clean, but you definitely won't be compromising your style. It goes great with any outfit and is perfect for vacation too! ($59.95)

4. PUMA Equation Laptop Backpack via TJMaxx   -  This backpack is a great mix of sporty and stylish. Bring your laptop to work to use during nap time and easily take it out before a field trip with your little. I love the cognac details and multiple zippers for easy organization. ($29.99)

5. Women's Corduroy Backpack - Mossimo Supply Co.™ Mint via Target  -  I love this backpack for fall! It's a fun color and I can't say that I've ever seen a corduroy backpack before. Bonus, it's on sale! ($20.99)

6. Adidas Excel III Backpack via Nordstrom Rack  -  Light pink and navy, you just can't go wrong. It's even big enough for hauling sand toys to the park! ($39.97)

7. Trans by JanSport®Ocean Vintage Floral Print Backpack  via Target  -  Okay, this one looks like beautiful antique china I would love to have in my cupboard. Not into the floral? Trans by JanSport has tons of other fun prints to choose from! ($44.99)

8. Fossil Keyper Backpack via DSW  -  This backpack is a great color for year round use and seems ultra durable with the coated canvas. The positive customer reviews speaks for itself. ($69.95)

Thanks for reading! I'll keep you updated if I take the backpack plunge. What's your favorite day bag? Oh, and don't forget to follow @oliveyounannymke on Instagram for more!

xoxo,

Maggie

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Parenting Resolutions for 2018

Want to make 2018 your best year yet?  Consider making resolutions to concentrate on and emphasize as a family.  Here are a few suggestions:

1.     Be 100% present when you are with your children.  There is a difference between being with your child every day and actually being present and “in the moment.”

2.     Select a word to focus on throughout the year.  “Simplify”, “delegate”, and “grateful” are a few good examples.

3.     Separate work time from family time.  Give yourself an “end time” every night so you can spend the remaining time focusing on your family instead of multi-tasking.

4.     Try to give your child more independence and responsibility. 

Author: Jessica Bonshire

Top 10 Indoor Play Spaces in the Dallas Area

Texas is known for its incredibly hot summers and almost non existent winters (although if it drops in the 50s or below native Texans will NOT be spotted outside without a ridiculous amount of ‘winter’ gear on ). This is what makes indoor play areas in Dallas so incredible! After speaking to many different nannies in the area and my own experiences; I have narrowed down the top 10 indoor play spaces in the Dallas Area (many of which are free)!

1.      Prestonwood Baptist Church in (west) Plano. During the week the FREE play area, Kidzplay (directly to the right when you come in the main entrance) is a must go for children infant to 10 years old. There are tons of climbing, slides (one for the bigger kids and one for the small ones), hilly terrain to run all over and some flat area in the back for the little babies! Plenty of seating for moms. Free to play and best of all they have a cafe downstairs that is inexpensive and delicious! (Salad bar, different foods such as pizza, baked potato bar, chicken tenders, coffee bar, snacks and drinks). Monday, Tuesday, Thursday they are open from 9:00-4:30p, Wednesday’s 9-6:15, Friday’s 9-1:00p, and although they are open on Saturday and Sundays those times change and are VERY limited so please call before heading there! 972.820.5000

2.      Kid Mania in Plano. Another great place for climbing! Kid Mania is a multi level climbing adventure and I would definitely say it’s more suitable for the 5 year olds and up! Although they do have an adorable toddler area as well! There are a few arcade games and tons of seating! Also a kitchen with tons of food options from lunches to snacks! This place does get pretty packed on the weekends but it’s great because it is very open and allows you to see your kids with ease! It is open Monday through Thursday from 10a-9p, Friday and Saturday 9a-10p and Sunday from 11a-8p! Admission is only $3.49 (ages 1-2), $6.99 (ages 3-18) and $1 (19+). 

3.      Need somewhere to let your kids burn off some energy? Pump it Up Open Jump in just the place! It is a great place to practice those gross motor skills and really get some energy out! They have tons of inflatable bounce houses, basketball goals, slides, obstacle courses and more! The best part is that each Pump it Up has a different set up and different Open Jump days and hours! Admission is $5 (1 year olds) and $8 (ages 2-17 and adults are free)! Their open play hours are typically a two-hour window but that’s really all you need for these hyper kiddos! Keep your eye open as well because some locations offer a monthly sensory Jump night for those kiddos on the Autism Spectrum. 

4.      The Woods (Inside Highland Park Presbyterian). This play area is great for the younger kiddos (4 and under)! It has its own outside entrance and is full of soft things to climb all over! Admission is free and it is open Monday-Friday from 9-5!

5.      Watermark Tree-fort (Inside Watermark Church off of 635). This indoor play space is so much fun for the toddler age and up! There is plenty to do on the lower level with tons of room to run around and then a tree fort to climb! They have a small little cafe as well with a few snacks and drinks! Admission is free and they are open Monday Tuesday Thursday Friday from 9-6p, Wednesday 1p-6p, Saturday 7a-2p and Sunday from 12:30-5! 

6.      Local Libraries. There are so many local libraries that offer amazing programs! Many nannies have raved about the UP and Preston Royal locations! I personally LOVE the grapevine location! The Grapevine location has an imagination station weekly which is so much fun and awesome for independent imagination play! They set up different stations with all the things to go with it such as a grocery store, nursery, fire station, outdoor barbecue and so much more! NorthPark has a library as well and they have weekly music/story times! They also tend to have larger productions during the week right in the middle of the mall! Each library has different activities and schedules but they are all worth going to visit! Most of them you do not need to sign up for a library card in order to be apart of the children activities! 

7.      Mall Play Areas! During the weekend these play areas can be pretty chaotic but during the week I find they are much calmer! Galleria (located on the third floor), Stonebriar (located on the first floor) and Willowbend (located on the first floor) all have great play areas! These areas are typically perfect for about 5 years and under! They have the soft ground and soft things to play on. 

8.      Peek n Play in Grapevine. Peek n Play features a kid-sized town, a slide that goes into a ball pit, and tons of toys! This is great for ages infant-10 years old! There are tons of things for your kiddos to explore! You can bring in outside food or they have snacks and drinks for purchase there. Admission is $12/child and they are open Monday- Friday from 10-6.

9.      The Coop in Frisco. The Coop is very similar to Peek n Play! They also have a slide that goes into a ball pit, an electric dance floor, a bounce house, rope climbing, toys, dress up clothes, coloring and many books! The Coop is also great for infant to 10 years old! Admission is $10 (ages 1+) —$2 off on Tuesdays and they are open Monday- Friday 9-5p.

10.   CooCoos in (west) Plano is similar to Pump it Up with the many different kinds of bounce houses but it also has a great variety of arcade games and my personal favorite a small working train! The kiddos I’ve taken here have LOVED it (and mostly spent time riding the train over and over!) it’s very open so allows for plenty of space to run around! They are open Sunday through Thursday from 10-6, Friday and Saturday 10-9! Open play in all day every day! Admission for 3 and under is $5 and everyone else is $8!

Author: Kathryn Eastin

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Baby It’s Cold Outside….

As a nanny for the past 6 years I have found that the Winter months can be the prettiest but yet the longest day for a caregiver, mother, father or whom ever get the joy of taking care of the kids while someone is away working. *Perfect crafts for you to also use as gifts for your loved ones.

It’s the best job, but when those winter months come you better start to get creative. So I wanted to share with you some ideas that I do inside with the kids.

At home crafts…

Snow can be fun but who are we kidding…by the time you get the little one bundled up you either have to change a diaper or someone has to go potty. So an alternative that I found was to bring the snow to you and make it. It’s super easy and fun for all. I will warn you it can be messy but its super easy to clean up!

Recipe:

1/2 cup of conditioner (I picked a cheap brand but one that smells good)

2 cups of Baking Soda

Mix together

Felt Snowmen:

Things you will need

Felt colors:

*White, orange, blank and fun colors for scarf

Poster board

Glue

How to:

Cut three different size circles from the white felt (I traced plates and bowls to get the perfect circle)

Cut nose from the orange

Two eyes and three buttons from the black one

Place and glue the three circles to the board and then have the child have fun dressing up the snowman.

(You can even play a gam of “pin the nose” on the snowman) great to see the kids giggle and have fun with this)

 

Snow Globe Glitter:

Things you will need:

Empty water bottle

Glue (clear)

Water

Glitter

How to:

Fill up the 1/4 of the empty water bottle with clear

Fill up the rest of it with water

Sprinkle in as much or as little as you would like.

You may want to put take at the top near the cap 

Snowman with cotton balls:

Things that you will need:

2 paper plates

Construction paper:

*Orange

*Black

*Choose your color for scarf

Stapler

Glue

How to:

Cut inner part of the part of the paper plate

Cut 2 circle for eyes 3 larger circles for buttons

Cute orange triangle for the nose

Take the two plates and use the glue to cover them with the cotton balls

Let dry

Staple the two plates together

Glue on the nose, eyes, buttons and scarf

Salt Ornaments:

Things you will need:

1 cup of salt

1 cup of flour

1/2 cup of water

Bowl

Rolling pin

Paint colors of your choice

(we painted a foot print to look like a snowman)

How to:

Mix all ingredients in bowl

Roll out in the shape you would like and then put in hand or foot print in dough

Poke a hole at the top and it can be used as an ornament

Bake at 100 for 2 hours

Let cool and paint

Finger Painting:

Have fun and let them be creative

Frame and hang

 

Now those all can be great hands on activities for when its cold out but I would also suggest you check local museums and play places for you to take them to so that they (and YOU) can have some kid/adult interaction. Check out the museums websites for the free days for Illinois residence.

Some of my favorites in the suburbs and city of Chicago

Little Beans

Pump it Up

Naperville Children’s Museum

Kohl's Museum

Shed Aquarium

Science and Industry Museum

Fiels Museum

Local library (story times)

Hope this helps you all out and would love to hear what you all do during these cold winter months!

Author: Jeniece Sullivan

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Top 5 reasons to Shop Made in USA for your kiddos!

INTRO

I can’t say that I’ve always looked at the tags on my kids clothing and cared where they were made, as long as they were cute. Did it really matter? I’d just rather assume that the people making the clothing were getting a fair wage, lived in a nice home and raised their own families. I like to picture these people as sweet women who have retired and just love to sew. Woman who chatted as they sewed, reminisced about life and added a little extra love into each piece being made.

FACTS

Reality check, NOT the case my friends. Let me give you a little insight on the facts. Many of these factories put toxic chemicals onto their clothing. They contain hormone disruptors and chemicals that can be toxic to the reproductive system. There are over 8,000 synthetic chemicals found in each piece of clothing. There has been research that shows these chemicals can lead to major illness such as infertility and even cancer. Not to mention the wages are very low and the working conditions even worse.

HEALTHIER LIFE

As a mother of three, I care about what goes into my kiddo’s bodies. We try to only buy organic, I use cleaning supplies that are “green” and try my best to teach my kids good habits that will better their lives down the road. Until recently, I never even considered their clothing as part of this new path for cleaner living.

LESS CLUTTER

For me, I think about buying clothing that I love. Pieces that are unique to who your kids are. Instead of going out and buying a ton of stuff, spend a little more on pieces that you love. It feels better and you’ll be more inclined to cherish it. Buying USA made is more expensive certainly, costs to manufacture here are far higher then overseas, but buying less and knowing where it’s made might just be worth it. Plus, less waste and less clutter!

It’s next to impossible to do everything perfect. If we did, we would go nuts and I imagine our lives would be very boring! But it’s good to recognize that you can make strides little by little.

WHY ITS IMPORTANT TO MY BRAND

When I started looking into being a manufacturer and starting a kids line, I wanted to feel good about the products I was putting out there. I wanted them to be fun, unique, colorful and extremely soft. I only want what’s best for my kids and I assume all parents do as well! So we have gone the route of USA made.

BRANDS

Here are a few of my favorite kids brands all made in the USA.

Winter Water Factory- LOVE this brand. I’m a print person myself and I love how fun these prints are. They are also very soft, well made, effortless and fun.

Made in Brooklyn

Pre fresh- Whether you have a 6 month old or 9 year old, these tee’s are great for everyone. They are super soft, hip, cool and will never go out of style.

Made in Portland

June and January- I look for comfort in my kids clothes and you’ll find it with this brand. I love the colors and the simplicity of the designs and again, super soft!

Made in Brooklyn

Wee Rascals- Seriously hip and ultra creative. The little sayings on these tees are inspirational and adorable!

Made in Austin

Petit Marin- Such a creative company, Petit Marin takes men’s old dress shirts and makes them into adorable jumpers, dresses and hats!

Made in LA

And Us, Citizen Smalls! We are launching our kickstarter mid November, so join us on our journey at www.citizensmalls.com and sign up to be the first to get pieces of our first line!

Made in Austin

Author: Sarah Davis

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So Much Fun in the North Shore!

Have you have recently moved to the northern suburbs, or are you contemplating a move? There are plenty of great, kid friendly businesses to keep your little ones (and you!) entertained and even meet new friends! When I started doing nanny placements in the north shore, I have to admit, I wasn't that familiar with the "burbs", and had to quickly familiarize myself. What I found were so many wonderful places for parents (and nannies) to meet, have fun, and even learn. I feel good things should be shared, so here are just a few of my favorite finds.

Play Spaces: Indoor play spaces are great for so many reasons. I love them for pre-crawlers to beginning walkers especially, because they mirror the park experience without the "Oh wait, don't put that in your mouth!", or "Oh no, what did you just crawl through?!" aspect. They are also great for any age when the weather isn't cooperating. Little Beans Evanston and Growth Spurts in Wilmette are two great options. 

Beyond a Toy Store: The Sensory Kids Store  in Wilmette, was created by a mom of kids with developmental differences, and is the first of it's kind. While this store may cater to kiddos with developmental differences, it is a wealth of knowledge for all parents and kids of all abilities. I love a store I can walk into and know that every item was hand selected with care and purpose, and The Sensory Kids Store certainly qualifies.  

Kid Friendly Eats: Be on the lookout for a great new spot opening soon in Northbrook. The Jar Bar is a genius idea from a mom who understands the need for quick, healthy options outside of the city. They are set to open in April, and with offerings like Cookie Dough Overnight Oats, I'm definitely planning a trip! Jar Bar will be a great, kid friendly spot to meet friends for lunch, grab a portable lunch to take to the park, or swing through for breakfast on your way to the train. 

Party Like a Rockstar: Our friends at Chicago Kids have created a new resource site, Basharoo. This site gives you everything you need for party planning in one place. How great is that?! Basharoo lists locations, entertainers, rentals, and even photos of parties for inspiration. 

Hopefully this list encourages you to explore the beautiful north shore suburbs. This is just a small sample of what it has to offer. Do you have a favorite spot?

Author: Jessica Schwartz, North Shore Placement Specialist

 Evanston's beautiful beaches! 

Evanston's beautiful beaches! 

 

 

What's all this Nanny Share talk?

I’m sure if you are pregnant, or have a newborn, you have heard about a NannyShare. It seems to be the new big thing sweeping across the nanny industry. There are pros and cons to a NannyShare; my goal is to shed some light on a few topics. 

First off, what is a NannyShare? The simplest way to put it; two families with children close in age, hiring one nanny for both families. Now this arrangement can range from families sharing the nanny during the same hours, or one family having the nanny part time and the other full time. In both scenarios, you are sharing the same nanny. In my experience, it’s preferable to have similar hours so the nanny can come to either house, the same day and time every week making life easier on everyone.

Is doing a NannyShare right for you? One benefit of a Nannyshare is your child has a playmate everyday. A lot of parent’s worry that having a nanny will not be enough involvement and interaction with their child. Parents who are deciding between a nanny and daycare often find a NannyShare to be a perfect solution. You have the benefits of a nanny being at your home, your child in their own crib, and also having a playmate. Another BIG benefit is cost effectiveness. If you NannyShare, the price of the nanny is cut in half! So you and the other family will each pay half of the salary. 

There are a lot of nannies out there that also prefer a NannyShare situation. They will have another child to grow and learn with. Having been a nanny, you always could use another playmate! Hourly pay is another important factor for the nanny. Your nanny will have a higher salary, and who doesn’t want that? If the nanny has experience with multiple children, it’s a win-win. Keep in mind that your nanny will have 4 bosses. So if you need to address something to your nanny, talk it over first as parents and have one person approach the nanny. That will make it much less intimidating.

Here are a few things to look out for…

Make sure the family that you NannyShare with has the same philosophies as your family does. Do you like your child to be at the park, story time, museums, being active? Do you want your child eating only organic, or are you particular when it comes to being “green?” If you meet a family where those things are not important, it may not be a good match. You want to make sure that each family has a similar outlook on what is important for their child. Also it’s important to agree on what qualities are desired in a nanny. If you’re looking for a younger, energetic, outgoing nanny, and the other family wants an older, experienced nanny, you may not see eye to eye. 

I would recommend having a list of expectations for both the family partaking in the “share” and the nanny. Compare notes, ask lots of questions, and make sure you are all on the same page. Finding a family to work with is just as important as finding a great nanny! 

So do your legwork and talk to more then just one family. Chances are there is another great family looking for the same thing!

By: Sarah Davis, founder of Olive.You.Nanny

 

The Ins & Outs of Overnight Nannies

Sometimes work, anniversaries and far away friends call us to travel sans kids and leave the question “Who will stay with my children?”

Cue your nanny to the rescue.

Often, I get asked “Do people really do that?” referring to nannies who don’t mind spending a few nights in someone else’s house to care for their children. Any nanny who feels connected to the family she works for, usually doesn’t mind working overtime in order for the parents to have some time to themselves or travel for work.  Parents return refreshed and happier, kids have a fun stay-cation and the nanny gets extra income plus a fun experience with the kids. Everyone wins.

How do I pay for overnights?

There are a lot of answers out there for this but I find that the easiest way to approach overnight needs is to pay a flat fee for the time period the kids will be (or should be) asleep.  This rate is dependent upon the age of children and bedtimes.  If you have busy toddlers who will keep the nanny working past 9pm and potentially up throughout the night, factor that in and pay on the higher side. If your kids are older and more self sufficient at bedtime and you’re paying her to make sure they don’t burn the house down, the flat rate can be lower.  Remember that your nanny will still be working after your children are in bed:  cleaning up the house, doing laundry or other tasks that need to be done, and preparing for the next day. The average rate  is $75-$150 for the overnight period (typically 9pm-7am).

Weekends

Maybe you’re invited to a can’t miss wedding out of state and need the nanny Friday-Sunday, you should take into consideration if this will make for one really long week for the nanny.  If she worked 40+ hours Monday through Friday and you plan to be gone the entire weekend, factor that into her rate.  If your kids have a vibrant social calendar, make sure to leave behind everything needed for the birthday parties, play dates and sporting events. It doesn’t hurt to have the fridge stocked as well.

Weeknights

Sometimes getaways aren’t planned by you but by your employer and it happens to be at the same time your spouse is visiting their parents, so you’ll need someone to get the kids to and from school. If your nanny currently only works as an after school nanny, you may need to consider having her “on call” while you are away in order to have her available the entire day.  Some families will pay the nanny her normal hourly rate while the kids are at school to ensure she is available for any reason.  The nanny can run errands for you during this time and act as  a household manager.

What if I don’t have a nanny?

Maybe your children attend after school programs and you do not have regular childcare in the home but find yourself needing overnight care, use an overnight nanny.  I strongly recommend hiring this individual first as a permanent sitter.  who you will regularly use for date nights and also someone who is responsible, experienced and available for overnight care. Olive.You.Nanny is  happy to help you find the perfect person to meet your overnight childcare needs!