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Feb 29

Long Distance Grandparents

Over the past hundred plus years, Nana and Papa have gotten farther and farther away. In 1916, grandparents were very likely to live in the same area, if not the same home, as their grandchildren. In 2016, grandparents are not only not likely to live in the same home as their grandkids but might not even live on the same continent!

This sounds like bad news for grandparents and grandchildren alike. Grandparents get so much joy from time spent with grandkids; Children benefit from the additional love, attention and teaching from another trusted adult in their lives.

But stop the boo-hooing! The changing world not only means we are likely to live far from family, it also means that we have many new ways to stay in touch.  So grandma and grandpa…

Computer communication SOSsitterGet your tech on!

If you were not sure you wanted to Facebook or Facetime, let me be clear – you do!  Stay on top of the technology your grandkids like to use – Texting, Instagram, Twitter – and get on. Not only will you be able to learn what they are doing day to day, you are also likely to get a response if you communicate with them in the way they communicate with their friends.

Keep your old world ways!

Balance your online and offline presence in your grandchildrens’ lives. Sending letters, cards and special care packages can be one of your “special things” with your grandkids. My mother used to send a care package to her godchildren on every conceivable holiday, every year, like clockwork. They are all grown now but still talk about how they knew to run to the mailbox to look for their package.

Give virtual and in person hugs!

Schedule regular Skypes or Facetimes because nothing beats seeing each other face to face – even if on a computer. Balance this with regular visits in person.

The most critical thing to know is that it is the adults in your grandkids’ lives who are the key to the kingdom.

Whether the kids’ parents, Nanny or other support in place, they will be the ones to facilitate you staying in touch so keep a good relationship with them as well. SOSsitter.ca is a Canadian portal designed to help you find local caregivers in your area, easily and quickly. The caregiver who is right for your family is only a click away.

Feb 22

Staying Close when Far Away

Luckily I do not travel for work as much as I used to but there was a time when I caught three or four flights in a kid skype computerweek. I used to say that, for me, taking an airplane was like catching a bus. Travel can be exciting but when you have kids, it can also be difficult. Here are some of our practical tips  for how to stay close when far away:

Before you go

  • Make sure you tell the kids of your plans in advance so there are no surprises.
  • Explain how long you will be away – such as two sleeps – and that you will be back.
  • Make the news fun by looking up your destination on a map or online.

While you are away

  • Plan on a call or skype at the same time every day. Find the time that works best – first thing in the morning before they head for school or every night before bedtime.
  • Send each other selfies. No special lighting or full make-up required. Just snap some fun photos of yourself as you go about your day and send them off with a quick note.
  • Introduce some fun traditions – such as sending a postcard from every city you visit which can go on a peg board in your kids’ rooms. Make this easy by keeping a stash of stamps in your suitcase, picking up the postcard before your luggage at the airport and writing them out on the way into town.
  • We would recommend staying away from a gift from every trip as this can become an expensive practice!

When you get back

  • Have something special or fun planned for when you get back home. This is not about but spending money to ease guilt, this is about spending quality time together.

Bon voyage Mom or Dad!

Craving some ‘adults only’ time on vacation?

SOSsitter.ca is a Canadian portal designed to help you find local caregivers in your area, easily and quickly. The caregiver who is right for your family is only a click away.

 

Feb 16

Keeping Kids Busy

Whether it’s a holiday, PA day or a “too cold to go outside today” day, there are lots of ways to keep your kids busy when they are not in school. We have found that the best way to make these days fun – for the kids as well as for the parents, nanny or babysitter – is to plan ahead and to get your kids engaged. This means you will not be at loose ends and that your kids will have ownership for their day. There are tons of great ideas online so start Googling!  Kids cooking for fun

Some of our favourite ideas include:

  • Too cold outside? What about an indoor snowball fight? White sheets on the furniture make snow drifts and white sport socks make great snowballs. Just be sure to move that fragile and expensive vase from your mother in law out of the way before you get started!
  • Kids’ fancy dress dinner party! Nanny and the kids can plan and prepare a fancy (well – relatively fancy!) meal for the family, design the theme and invitations and even help all find the costumes by raiding closets, the Halloween collection and dress up chest.
  • Board days, not bored days! Dig out all of the old board games, the deck of cards or the puzzle you have not gotten to yet. This can provide hours of fun for the whole family!

 

  • The show must go on! Children’s imaginations are vast and a great way to see this in action is a play written and acted by kids. Set up a “stage” area in the living room and chairs for the audience.

 

  • Cookies and cakes and pies oh my! Baking is a great way to keep the kids entertained and to start teaching them about cooking. The yummy treats are the cherry on top!
  • Find your inner artist! What kid doesn’t love doing arts and crafts? If your supplies are dwindling or you just need some things that are new and fun, hit your local crafts store for inexpensive items like stickers and colour paper and glue. And then let your kids do the rest.

Let the fun begin!,

We’re a portal for finding caregiver support for your home and family BUT we also have lots of content about parenting, nannies and babysitters and things to do with kids. Check it out!

 

Feb 8

Nanny: Will You be My Valentine?

Valentine’s Day is about telling and showing the people you love and care for – and who love and care for you – how Tell nanny you love her: Valentine's Dayyou feel.  Nanny certainly falls into that category so make sure he or she is on your list! Here are some of our favourite ideas for showing Nanny how you feel this Valentine’s Day:

  • A homemade valentine, crafted with love, especially for Nanny.
  • Cupcakes or cookies you know Nanny loves.
  • An invitation to Nanny to join the family celebration.
  • A skit depicting the ways Nanny cares for the family or recent adventures.
  • A collage of favourite pictures of the kids and Nanny. Lots of stickers and sparkles recommended!

But why not use the good china every day? Or in other words, there are things you can do every day to make Nanny feel like the valued and loved member of the family that he or she is already. No need to wait for a holiday! Let your imagination run wild; some ideas to get you started follow:

  • A heartfelt thank you – whether in person, by email or text, or good old fashion snail mail. It does not matter how but showing appreciation for all Nanny does for the family (both day to day and the above and beyond extras) is the number one thing you can do to make Nanny feel a part of the family.
  • Tell Nanny he or she is part of the family!
  • A text to check in – say hello and we miss you! – when Nanny is away.
  • Telling your family, friends and neighbours how great Nanny is (as they inevitably tell Nanny!).
  • Keeping Nanny’s favourite snacks in the cupboard or sodas in the fridge.
  • Remembering Nanny’s special occasions such as birthdays.
  • Asking Nanny is he or she needs anything when running out to do errands.

It is important to say that all of this should be in addition to a solid relationship in which expectations, remuneration (pay and benefits) and performance is communicated about openly and fairly.

Looking for a local nanny or babysitter? Look no further!

So how about it Nanny? Will you be my Valentine?  xo

Feb 1

Foster a Love of Music in Your Kids!

Let’s dance! Put on your red shoes and dance the blues…

Remember your first song – the song that opened your mind consciously to music? Mine was David Bowie’s Let’s Dance.

I was just reminded of it recently with the news that Bowie’s creative genius had left us. And singing that song in my head took me right back to sitting on the bottom bunk in my sister’s bedroom as she played it for me for the first time. I can see it perfectly in my mind’s eye: her green bed spread, her cassette player and my very own sister as a newly minted teenager, all as though I was there.

I was also lucky enough to be exposed to a variety of music: my Dad loved the Beatles and my Mom blared Opera and Elvis’s Blue Christmas at the holidays! We went to see the symphony. And like most kids, I complained my way through piano lessons for a good part of my childhood.

Music is powerful! It is wonderful! Helping your kids discover the gift of music is easy and has so many benefits.

Why do it?

Whilst music can encourage creativity and act as a form of expression, it is also very good for teaching discipline through the patience and constancy needed to learn a new instrument. Music can be a means for connecting with others (choir, marching band, singing in the back seat), for gaining confidence, and for retreating and feeling understood.

How do I do it?

Listen!
Turn it on, turn it up, tune in; play music in the house, in the car, where ever.

Music and kidsExplore!
Play different types of music – pop, jazz, blues, opera, indie, folk, symphonies, rock, (kid appropriate) Hip Hop.

Sing!
Sing songs you know and learn the songs your kids are singing at school.

Play! 

Encourage your kids to take up an instrument.

Dance!
Kids are generally (and naturally) great dancers; get some dance parties going at home.

And most of all, Enjoy! Your love and enjoyment of music will be all the inspiration your kid needs to start their own wonderful journey in life with music.

And if you are looking for another “member of your band” – whether a Nanny or pet sitter or housekeeper – auditioning and finding the right addition is easy!

 

Jan 25

Psst – Things your Housekeeper Would Like You to Know!

Psst… You. Yes, you!  It is time to sit down and listen to some hard truths. There are a few things your housekeeper would like you to know:

1 – I am not a mind reader!

If you would like things done in a certain way, please don’t hesitate to say so. Your housekeeper wants you to be housekeeper inspecting the jobhappy with the results of their work but they need to know if there are specific things that are important to you. Remember, your housekeeper is a professional, not a magician!

2 – I find it hard to clean around your clutter!

Unless agreed in advance, housekeepers are there to clean the house, not fold laundry or wash a sink full of dirty dishes. Further, if they are to clean, they need to be able to “get at it” so pick up dirty clothes and kids toys off the floor.  

3 – I find it hard to clean around your family!

As lovely as your family is, a housekeeper has a job to do. And sometimes doing that job is hard when the kids are playing catch in the living room. If possible, schedule the cleaner for times when the house is quiet.

4 – Your family’s fluids belong to you!

Anything intimate or gross that belongs to or comes from your family should stay with your family. For example, if your child has been throwing up all night, you should clean it up. Do not leave the soiled linens for your housekeeper. 

5 – I have views on cleaning products!

Your housekeeper is the professional so consider discussing which products work best. For example, if you are interested in going “all natural”, it is a good bet your housekeeper knows which products work and which just make you feel good.

6 – I am a person too!

Housekeepers provide an invaluable service to your family and deserve to be treated with respect.  Treat your housekeeper well by not only demonstrating that you understand the points above but also by paying a fair wage and treating them with kindness.

Burning the candle at both ends? Look for a housekeeper in your local area and take a break! You deserve it!

Jan 18

Apps for 21st Century Seniors

The other day, I was on Twitter and I was ‘tweeting’ with a woman who had some sage advice about how to deal with Untitled design (3)a cat that was peeing inappropriately. I, in turn, responded to her questions about the value of an iPhone over an android device. I decided to follow her and then checked out her profile. She was an 81 year old great grandmother from BC. Awesome, right?

It got me thinking that there are so many great apps not only for all of us but also and perhaps especially for seniors.

“Apps” or applications for our smartphones, tablets and computers have changed our lives – in a big way. Can you imagine life without Google? Netflix? Facebook? LinkedIn? Pinterest? iBooks? And the list could go on and on.

Need some ideas? Need to sell the idea to your senior loved one? Well…. There are apps to:

And so many more. Just ask an 81 year old great grandmother. She’ll tell you!

Are you looking for some in-home support such as housekeeping or help with pets or perhaps you are looking for a local caregiver to help you take care of your senior loved one? We can help.

Jan 11

Winter Pet Care

…Gone away is the bluebird… here to stay is a new bird…He sings a love song…as we go along…walking in a winter wonderland…

Imagine yourself, bundled up, taking Fido out for a walk on a cold winter’s night, snow everywhere, whistling this dog sitting in the snowclassic winter theme song… it is all so idyllic!

But is it ideal for Fido?

Maybe not. Our pets always seem so robust and able to weather any storm but actually, they need special considerations to be able to deal with frigid winter temperatures. Here are some of our top tips for keeping your beloved pets happy and healthy this cold season:

Outdoors

  • If your dog is an outdoor dog, ensure there is a dry warm shelter for cold winter nights
  • Animals keeping warm burn more calories so will need more food; ensure water bowls have not frozen
  • Keep fur between toes trimmed as it can attract snow and ice, watch for signs of frostbite there and on ears and tips of tails too; Consider getting a coat and booties
  • Sidewalk and driveway salt is very hard on paws so wipe them off often
  • Be aware of streams and lakes that look frozen but could be hazardous

Indoors

  • Winter weather warnings should apply to pets as well; bring animals indoors when it is freezing. Make sure cat and dog doors are not frozen shut.
  • Seasonal features – such as plants like poinsettias and holly and space heaters and fireplaces – can be dangerous
  • Be aware of the impact of winter drafts on smaller caged animals such as birds
  • Animals stuck indoors will sleep more and exercise less so adjust food to reflect needed calorie intake

In-between

  • The garage should be off limits in winter as antifreeze can be deadly for your animals and cats have a tendency to slip under car hoods for the warmth of the engine
  • When out, cars can become like refrigerator so leaving your dog in the car is not a good idea

And if you cannot bear the thought of walks with Fido because it is just too cold for you, look for some help from a pet sitter in your local area who can help with the full range of your pet care needs.

Jan 5

New Year, New Nanny? Be Ready!

It is easy; some of our top tips follow:

House – ready!

With a new Nanny arriving, you will want to get your house in order. It does not require the “fresh coat of paint” that Nanny and childthe Queen of England requires but it will be easier to understand and get in synch with your systems if there is some order. And if your Nanny will be living in, be sure to make sure her room is ready – clean, fresh, and comfortable.

Nanny Notebook – ready!

What? You don’t know what a Nanny Notebook is? A Nanny Notebook is simply where you keep all the important information about your family: kids’ routines, medical information, important telephone numbers, and more.

It can be whatever you want it to be. You can also use it as a place for the Nanny to record important information, such as how much baby slept or ate.

You can make your own at home very easily, but you won’t be surprised you can even buy notebooks especially for this purpose!

Family – ready!

Your family will likely already be well aware that a new nanny is starting. Some say kids find this even easier than parents and get excited for someone new to bring fun change and adventure. Many find having the Nanny over a couple of times in advance for some structured engagement helps ease the transition for everyone. Enlist your kids to help with the tour of your home on Nanny’s first day and consider organising a fun activity for Nanny and the whole family as a nice welcome.

If you need a new Nanny but have not found one yet, you have come to the right place! We not only have a blog with all sorts of subjects important to parents today, but is also the place to find qualified nannies in your local area.  

If you are a nanny, we’ve got some tips to help make your first day a little easier!

 

Dec 28

Have Courage and Be Kind

Have courage and be kind.” Cinderella repeats these final words from her mother frequently throughout Disney’s Untitled designlatest version of the classic fairy tale. This is not surprising for a tale that seeks so deliberately to demonstrate the difference between kindness and cruelty and the ultimate consequences of both.

Even if you cringe at elements of the old tales – is the portrayal of the damsel in distress rescued by her Prince Charming still relevant? – it is hard to argue with “have courage and be kind”.

And before you get on your high horse, note that a study by a psychiatrists at Harvard University found that 80% of the kids in the study said that their parents were more concerned with their kids own happiness and achievement than thinking about others.

This tells us we might all have something to learn from the tale of Cinderella. Here are some ways you can teach your children to be kind:

– Tell them to be kind and why: Whilst kids are inherently helpful and kind, you want to nurture that and the best place to start is talking about how important it is to be kind.

– Make them practice being kind: Like anything in life, practice makes perfect. Work with them to find kind words when they trip up on the first go. Encourage them to be find ways to be kind to siblings and reward them for their efforts.

– Help your kids navigate negative feelings: Everyone will be faced with negative feelings, including negative thoughts towards others. Help your kids work through these feelings by looking for positives or taking a step back and counting to 10 before giving an angry answer.

– LEAD BY EXAMPLE: The single most important thing you can do is be kind yourself. Remember that you are the single most influential teacher for your children.

Find more information about teaching your children to be kind online.

Although we cannot magically produce helpers like Cinderella’s fairy godmother, we come pretty close by connecting you to caregivers in your area. Check it out today. And remember… have courage and be kind!