Archive for the ‘Q&A’ Category

What to Expect from a Vacation Nanny

April 1, 2015

Originally posted on the INA Blog.

When planning a vacation with children it is an option when traveling with children to have a vacation nanny.  There are several reasons why people opt to have help on their vacation or during a family or business travel trip.  The reasons range from needing an extra set of hands during the family vacation, to planning date nights, providing coverage when working or at a conference, and providing household assistance and or cleaning services.  Below are various ways that visitors use a vacation nanny when traveling.

Vacation Nanny:

Many families when traveling simply want the luxury of having an extra set of hands while on their trip.  They may have someone who works full days traveling around the city with them or spends the days at the beach or the pool acting as a nanny/entertainer for young children.  They may utilize the nanny not only during the day but as night as well, providing nanny services while the adults have dinner out/do a date night.  A vacation nanny should be expected not only to provide safe and reliable child care, but assist the family in covering nap times, planning fun activities for the kids, and educating the family about activities appropriate for the kids in the local area.  They can provide light housekeeping services as well to make things run smoother so the family is better able to fully enjoy their trip.

Hotel Nanny:

From time to time families will request a nanny for a single night out or a few nights out during a trip.  Many of the times these a date night vacation nanny will arrive with some games, activities, and the ability to be nurturing and put the kids to bed while the parent’s go out on the town.  They are used to working in a hotel environment with different kids who need “warming up” and the nanny should have a strong capability to be energetic and easily adaptable.  Vacation nannies are used to coming in to a situation where they do not know the kids and quickly building a relationship where the kids are able to have a great time and feel comfortable.

Conference/Work Trip Nanny:

There are a lot of families who come to town and need a nanny to cover time when they will be working or attending an event. A nanny that comes to a hotel to cover work time usually plans an outing or activities for the kids/babies.  They follow the regular or requested schedule of the family and are used to working in hotel rooms.  They are able to provide a fun, safe, environment while Mom or Dad is busy working for the day and adapt quickly and easily to the needs of the family.

Housekeeper Nanny:

From time to time when families are traveling they rent vacation homes and like to have daily assistance in the home cooking and cleaning.  This is considered a Housekeeper Nanny and can be very helpful in creating a great environment in a vacation rental.  This nanny can also provide childcare services within reason of being able to maintain the housekeeping tasks and cover things like parent’s night.

Hiring a vacation nanny can meet many different types of needs and requests.  If you are interested in learning more about the different types of coverage that can be provided when traveling and considering a vacation nanny consult with an INA member nanny agency for options and availability in your destination.


What to Know About the Affordable Care Act Before Open Enrollment Begins

November 20, 2014

Originally posted by Breedlove & Associates here.

Lately we’ve been inundated with questions about health insurance – specifically relating to the Affordable Care Act because the 2015 open enrollment is coming up on November 15th. So to help clear up any confusion families may have, here is a simple Q&A that may help.

What is the Affordable Care Act?

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, commonly referred to as the “Affordable Care Act” or “Obamacare,” is a federal law aimed at reducing the overall cost of health care and decreasing the number of uninsured individuals living in the United States.

Is my employee required to have health insurance?

Yes, your employee – like all Americans – is subject to penalties if she does not have health insurance coverage. However, you are not responsible for making sure your employee has health insurance.

Am I required to offer health insurance to my employee(s)?

No, employers are not required to offer health insurance if they employ fewer than 50 workers. However, you are required to provide your current employee and, at the time of hire, any future employee with a notice about the Health Insurance Marketplace.

What is the Health Insurance Marketplace?

The Health Insurance Marketplace is the government-run health insurance exchange – a “one-stop shop” where individuals can compare and purchase health insurance policies. Open enrollment for the Marketplace opens on November 15th for coverage beginning January 1, 2015. Your employee will be able to purchase health insurance through the Marketplace until open enrollment ends on February 15, 2015.

How much will health insurance cost?

The cost of health insurance will vary depending on the state and the options your employee chooses (deductible, co-pay, etc.). After completing an application, your employee will be able to compare prices and coverage options for different health insurance policies. Depending on her income and family size, she may be eligible for a subsidy if she purchases her insurance policy through the Marketplace. However, she must have documented wages in order to get a discounted policy – meaning she must be paid legally. The Kaiser Family Foundation has a helpful Subsidy Calculator to estimate how much she’ll save.

If I contribute to my employee’s health insurance policy, will I be eligible for any tax breaks?

If you contribute to your employee’s health insurance premium, the amount of your contribution is considered “non-taxable compensation” – so neither you nor your employee would have any taxes on that portion of the compensation. In addition to the non-taxable advantage, if you set up a health insurance policy for your employee through SHOP (Small Business Health Options Program) on the Marketplace and pay at least 50% of your employee’s premiums, you may be able to take advantage of the Credit for Small Employer Health Insurance. To take this credit, you’ll attach Form 8941 to your personal income tax return. The credit is up to 50% of the contribution you pay. For more information regarding the requirements for contributing to health insurance, please contact our office as SHOP is a relatively new program and the details may change.

We understand that many families are tackling this issue for the first time and may still have questions after reading this. Please don’t hesitate to send them our way. Our tax experts are happy to help Monday through Friday from 8am to 6pm CST.

Westchester Family Article by Susan Tokayer

July 6, 2013

0July’s Westchester Family Magazine features an article written by Family Helper’s owner and president Susan Tokayer. From the first interaction to the final background check, Susan discusses the steps Family Helper’s recommends when vetting a caregiver.

Check it out here: Hiring a Nanny: How to do a Background Check

Disability Benefits and the Nanny

May 22, 2013

By Stephanie Breedlove, Founder of Breedlove & Associates
Originally posted here.

Disability benefits are one of those things that nobody thinks about – until they need them.  But understanding how disability works – and thinking through your potential needs – helps a lot of people sleep better at night.  Here’s what you need to know.

When does an employee qualify for disability benefits?

Disability benefits are short-term financial assistance provide to employees who are unable to work due to an injury or illness that is not work-related (note: if it’s a work-related injury or illness, it falls under a similar assistance program called “workers’ compensation”).  An employee would qualify to collect disability benefits for things like maternity leave, ski injury, car accident, etc.

How does the program work?

Workers in California, New Jersey and Rhode Island fund disability through a small tax assessed as part of payroll.  Two other states, New York and Hawaii, fund disability through a mandatory insurance policy purchased by the employer.  In these five states, claims are reviewed and benefits disbursed by the state agency managing the disability fund.  Benefits are awarded based on specific criteria that vary from case to case – usually providing between 50% and 100% of the worker’s salary for up to 14 weeks.

The other 45 states do not assess disability taxes or require a policy.  Instead, employees (or their employers) can purchase an optional short-term disability insurance policy through any state-licensed insurance broker.  They are relatively inexpensive so we typically advise employees to consider a policy – especially if they have dangerous hobbies or think they may need maternity leave in the near future.

If you have any questions about disability benefits, visit us at or give us a call at 888-273-3356.

Why do I have to ask my child 3+ times to stop doing something?

May 12, 2011

By Marcia Hall – Strong Roots Family Coaching

When you say to your child “Stop slamming that door” or “Don’t slam the door” the first (and sometimes only) thing they hear is the word SLAM. Most likely your child was not really intentionally trying to slam the door, but now you have brought it into his mind. In fact, the word DON’T or STOP may not have really registered with his memory. So in effect, by telling him to stop slamming the door, you have now made him aware of an action he has made, but not really told him what he should do.

If I were to say to you, “Stop thinking about eating chocolate”. Even as an adult this might pose a problem for you. Chances are you were not really thinking about chocolate beforehand and now that I have brought it up, you are. So in order to stop yourself from thinking about chocolate, you have to concentrate on chocolate and now you can’t get chocolate out of your mind.

Now if I were to say to you, “think about eating a sandwich”. Would chocolate ever enter your mind? Not likely. In the same way, telling your child not to do something is only going to make him think about what he isn’t supposed to do. You are asking him to make the leap from what he isn’t supposed to do to what he is supposed to do. If you have a child that is 10 or over, this might be very easy for them. But ask yourself this, why didn’t YOU just tell him what he SHOULD do.

It is easier in the busyness of life to react to what we see our child doing and verbalize it asking them to stop. It is hard to train our mind to think about what he should do and verbalize that instead. If it is that hard for us, think about how hard it is for him. It seems a little unfair of us to ask our child to make that connection when we are not able or willing to take the time to do it ourselves.

When you talk to your child, tell him WHAT to do instead of what NOT to do. “Don’t slam the door” becomes – “Close the door gently.” “Don’t walk across the carpet with dirty shoes” becomes “Take your shoes off before you walk on the carpet.” And adding a please to the statement isn’t a bad idea either.

 Marcia Hall has been working with children and families for that past fifteen years. She is a Certified Professional Nanny, an INA Credentialed Nanny, a 3 time nominee for the International Nanny Association Nanny of the Year award and an ACPI Certified Coach for Families. Marcia is a graduate of the English Nanny and Governess School (1997) and of the Academy of Coaching Parents International (2010) and has served as a certified minister, children’s ministry director and foster parent. To learn more about Marcia, visit Strong Roots Family Coaching.

Reprinted with permission.

When You Didn’t Get the Gift You Wanted

December 22, 2010

by Michelle LaRowe, 2004 International Nanny Association Nanny of the Year

In a world where we often view our worth to our employers in terms of our paycheck, our raises and our bonuses, it should be no surprise that for some nannies, this holiday season could make them feel really valued or really undervalued.

For nannies, we often anticipate what our holiday gift or bonus will be. Most nannies know that it is “industry standard” to give one to two week’s pay as a holiday bonus and more the longer the nanny has been with a family.  This information in hand, nannies eagerly wait for their last paycheck of the year desperately hoping it’s filled with the extra money that they have been hoping for. We also tend to expect a holiday gift – something special crafted by the children or an item picked out from a store we would never be able to shop at on our own.

While you may expect neither a gift nor bonus, in my 15 plus years of being in the nanny world, I’ve found that most nannies, me included, have shared these holiday expectations at one time or another.

 So how do you handle it when your bonus or gift doesn’t live up to your expectations?

1. Consider how you are valued year round. Is it really fair to base how much your employer values you by looking only at your bonus or gift?  If your family constantly tells you that they appreciate you, reminds you of how much you enrich their family life and thanks you for providing the best care for their children, those things needs to be remembered as well. 

2. It is the thought that counts. Families celebrate the holidays differently. Some families aren’t big on giving holiday gifts or more accurately giving money for holiday gifts. Others don’t receive a holiday bonus from their employers, so don’t see the need of giving one to their employee.  Keep in mind that holiday bonuses and gifts aren’t automatic or merit rated (unless your contract states otherwise) so any gesture should be appreciated. 

3. Try not to judge. It can be so tempting to think that your employer could have done more, but don’t. How much your employer makes or has in her bank is irrelevant. You can’t view your bonus or pay based on what you think your employer can afford. That’s not how it works. Your pay should be based on your skills, experience, education, market demand, etc., and your holiday bonus or gift is based on what your employer wants to give you.

4. Reevaluate your expectations. If you were working for most any other type of employer, would it be fair to expect a new pair of Uggs then to be disappointed when they weren’t under the tree? Just because you want a gift or had one in mind, is it fair to be disappointed you didn’t receive it? Are your expectations based on what your nanny friends are getting rather than on your employer’s gift giving traditions? Is it fair to expect anything over and above your weekly paycheck?

The nanny and employer relationship is a funny. We are part of the family, but we are not. The holidays magnify this unique aspect of our relationship. Just as we often think our employer treating us like family when it benefits them, we must also ask ourselves if we are expecting our employers to treat us like family when it benefits us?

If you’ve worked for a family for years and your gift or bonus is less extravagant than in years past, it can be hard to swallow. If you don’t receive anything, it can be even harder. While we like to think we know everything that is going on behind the scenes in the family (and we often do!) sometimes quite honestly, we don’t.

I’ve worked for families where I’ve received everything from a tube of facial cleanser to a huge pair of diamond earrings. Funny enough, the family I would have expected to get the diamond earrings from got me the facial cleanser. Was I disappointed? Yes. Did I feel jaded? Yes. Hurt? Yes.  Was my disappointment fair? Not really.

Just like we teach our charges, “You get what you get and you don’t get upset.” When it comes to holiday gift giving, this has to be our attitude. If it’s not, we risk resenting our employers, which if not resolved, can negatively affect the working relationship.

And while it can be tempting to compare bonuses and gifts with your nanny friends, don’t. One nanny may be completely thrilled with her holiday gift, until she learns that another nanny in the neighborhood got much more. That nanny could be you!

So, before you exchange gifts or open your last paycheck of December, take a deep breath, consider your value to the family and remind yourself it is the thought that counts.

If you truly feel like the gift your received (or didn’t) is a true reflection of how you are valued, it’s up to you whether or not you choose to broach the subject with your employer. Should you choose to address it, think very carefully about what you will say and how you will say it.

Reprinted with permission from

Why do celebrities and high power moms avoid the child care topic?

July 15, 2010

As I flip through the latest editions of newsstand magazines, I often notice articles that feature celebrities boasting that they don’t require the services of a nanny. The articles usually then go on to quote the celebrity stating their intentions to raise their children alone. While this is all well and good, when it’s true, we usually see the same celebrity featured shortly after they’ve publicly denied employing a nanny out and about with a nanny or two in tow (think Jennifer Lopez).

While there are those celebrities (like Gwyneth Paltrow) who praise their nanny and admit that they couldn’t work if they didn’t employ the services of a qualified in-home child care provider, they are sadly the minority. Generally it seems that most high powered women and celebrities simply avoid the child care topic and keep their nanny a deep dark secret. Why is that?

While I don’t have the answer, I do have some theories. First, I think that our society still harshly judges working moms and has certain expectations regarding a mother’s role. Although more women than ever work outside of the home and more women than ever hold leadership roles in major corporations and government, if they have children, there is an underlying current of judgment that says they don’t spend enough quality time with their children. But what is “enough” and why aren’t men subject to that same judgment?

Secondly, women often feel guilty for working and are torn between their work obligations and their family obligations. The result of this tug-of-war is that oftentimes working moms are left feeling like they aren’t adequate at either being a mom or being an employee, which can negatively impact a woman’s self-esteem and overall happiness.

A hundred years ago, many extended families lived in the same neighborhoods (if not the same house), so Grandma or Auntie helped with the children, did much of the cooking, etc. Today, this simply isn’t the case. For most families, Grandma doesn’t live around the corner, and if she does, she may have a life and career of her own, so she isn’t willing or able to help with the children as much as grandmothers of two or three generations ago did. While the living arrangements of families have changed over the years, the fact that many families need help raising their children hasn’t. The result is that these families are now forced to look outside the family unit for the assistance that they need.

Not so long ago, a high profile client hired a wonderful nanny through my agency. The client, who is a successful business woman, was interviewed on T.V. and when asked about her family and her children she made not one mention of having a nanny. While the woman talked about how the children are on a schedule and eat only healthy meals, she never once mentioned that it was in large part due to the nanny who had planned the schedule, cooked the meals, etc!

Another time I was on vacation, relaxing by a pool, when the woman lying next to me and I began a conversation. She asked me what kind of work I did, and when I told her that I owned a nanny agency she really started telling me off! She told me how supporting mothers so that they could go to work was undermining our society, etc., because they were supposed to be home with their children full time. I really got quite a lecture.

While INA has worked so hard to educate the public about nanny care, I tell you these stories to remind you that we still have a lot of educating to do. If a mom wants to continue her career and doesn’t have a mother that can help her, isn’t the most responsible thing to hire the best possible care giver to care for her children? And, wouldn’t it make sense for that mother to work with an agency that is screening these care givers and only presenting to her those candidates that meet her standards and needs? And might this mom be happier pursuing both a career that she loves and raising a family that she loves, with some help from a loving, knowledgeable, experienced nanny that loves her work? The answers are yes, yes and yes!

INA members are the cream of the crop when it comes to quality in-home child care. With nearly 25% of our membership in attendance at our 25th Annual Conference, it’s evident our membership takes continuing education seriously and embraces the mission of INA, which is to educate the public and industry professionals on the importance of in-home quality child care.

As our keynote speaker at the 2010 Annual Conference, Marybeth Phillips, founder of Trustline, said, “We must all do our part.” When it comes to educating the public, the quality of services you provide, the way you represent yourself or your business and the information you share with others about the importance of choosing a quality child care provider speaks volumes. When we all do our part we can help working mothers know that they are not alone and that there are quality agencies and nannies who can partner with them to ensure their success at work and at home. So, please, do your part!

Reader Question

September 11, 2009



Q. Now that my children are going back to school, my nanny won’t be working as many hours. How to families normally handle this situation?

A. For families of school aged children, September is perhaps the most challenging time of the year.  New routines, schedules and activities can throw even the most organized families temporarily off track. Fortunately, for families who employ a nanny, they don’t have the added stress of securing child care arrangements to accommodate the changes that back to school season brings.

While at first glance, it may seem that since your nanny is working fewer hours cutting her pay would be appropriate, but before you make that decision, it’s important to consider these key things:

  • Consider who will provide child care on Monday holidays, school vacations or when your child needs to stay home from school sick. Consider who will rush to the school when your child forgets her lunch or homework. Nannies provide child care when you need it. Unless you’re prepared to take time off from work or scramble for last minute coverage, paying your nanny for her availability to provide care may be the most convenient and cost effective option for you.                                                                                                                                             

  • While many families see asking the nanny to work a split shift, providing care for their children before and after school, as a viable option, most nannies won’t agree to that arrangement.  If you’re looking to keep your child care arrangement consistent, consider asking the nanny to take on specific household management duties during the hours that the children are in school. Many nannies ha ve transitioned into the role of household manager/nanny, taking on responsibilities like grocery shopping, running errands and supervising home repairs while the children were in school. Most nannies will be more open to that arrangement than to working a split shift.

  • Cutting the nannies hours and suggesting that she find a part time job while the kids are in school may sound like a great solution, but the reality is that most nannies won’t agree to this. If your nanny has to be available to you at a certain time of the day, it will severely limit her ability to obtain other employment. If she does, it could become a source of frustration to you should the kids be out of school and you need coverage.
  • In our experience, families who have wanted to keep their child care consistent and not worry about who would care for the kids on holidays, vacations and sick days, have found that continuing to keep their nannies hours and pay consistent was a winning situation for all.

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