Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Nanny Interview: Packaging Yourself Professionally

April 22, 2015

Packaging Yourself ProfessionallyOriginally posted here, on the INA blog.

Nanny Interview and Job Search Tips

What people see and how we look gives others a first impression of us.  How can what we wear impact how others treat us?  Take a look at this Leave it to Beaver clip and the impression Dudley has on the Cleaver family.  Each person forms preconceived ideas of Dudley based on what he is wearing.

On a daily basis, nannies of young children must be able to get on the floor and be active with young children.  How we dress should not impede us from doing our duties with children.  Our dress and accessories should never create a safety hazard for ourselves or the children in our care.  Additionally, some practical sense should be observed when traveling with children, engaging in outdoor adventure activities and participating in messy play. As you work with children, your clothing should continue to cover body parts and absolutely limit overexposure.  Ladies should avoid low cut shirts and pants. Gentlemen should avoid low cut or sagging pants.  Jewelry that could be choking hazards should be left outside the child’s environment if possible.  Most of the time closed toe shoes or shoes with a back are safer when actively engaged in outdoor activities.

Employers may have specific dress codes or suggestions when attending specific events outside the home.  As with any profession, it is important to abide by the rules and policies set by employers and those in authority positions.

When going on a nanny interview with potential families or attending professional development trainings such as the INA Annual Conference, a professional business attire is typically the best course of action to demonstrate professionalism.  Grooming should also be more than a passing thought.  Be sure clothes are clean, free from stains, pressed and fit your body.  Avoid clothing that is too tight and too revealing.  Moderation is key.

Although no one wants to be judged on their appearances alone, what others see first does make an impression.  So in addition to your appearance, your actions speak volumes about your professionalism, ethics and values.  Parents want nannies to demonstrate high moral values and conduct themselves with dignity and integrity.  They want the best caring for their children.

Everyone knows that little eyes are always watching us too.  Young children pick up on what you say and do even when you might not think they are aware.  Modeling appropriate behaviors both inside the home or eye shot of young children is a given.  Did you know that even in your private life outside of work others are watching you?  Yes, others are always watching.  Like it or not nannies are held to a higher standard than many other professions.  Since you care for and teach children, society views your actions to be fair game for others to critique.  This may not seem fair that what you do in your off time is criticized. But, this is the reality.

Moving on from your appearance to your interactions with others, let’s examine some general tips on being a positive person and getting along with others:

  • Be more tolerant and less of a judge. Everyone has their quirky habits. What is “Normal” to you may not be “Normal” to me!
  • Respect differences! Sometimes it is best to stay quiet in situations and less is more.
  • It is best to model appropriate behaviors to children.  They are watching you and taking cues from how you react to situations, speak to others, tone of speech and body language.
  • Don’t offer up your life story to a stranger in the elevator or spill all of your disappointments, tragedies and negative attitudes to anyone who is around especially employers.
  • When someone asks in passing, “How are you today?” they usually do not really want to know your every ache and pain.
  • Those sayings that Grandma used way back when — still apply! “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.”
  • Try to listen to the other person’s perspective.
  • Write down compromises and post on refrigerator when trying to resolve conflicts.
  • If it is not yours, then don’t take it/use it/abuse it/ consume it/…

The main concern is how children interpret our actions and
how we model appropriate behaviors. 

You may not be Mary Poppins flying in for your interview but try to set yourself apart from other nannies interviewing for a family.  Focus on your positive attributes and sell yourself by providing examples of your work, an exit portfolio, written testimonials from past clients.

Happy Thanksgiving from Family Helpers

November 27, 2014

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Be thankful that you don’t already have everything you desire.
If you did, what would there be to look forward to?

Be thankful when you don’t know something,
for it gives you the opportunity to learn.

Be thankful for the difficult times.
During those times you grow.

Be thankful for your limitations,
because they give you opportunities for improvement.

Be thankful for each new challenge,
because it will build your strength and character.

Be thankful for your mistakes.
They will teach you valuable lessons.

Be thankful when you’re tired and weary,
because it means you’ve made a difference.

It’s easy to be thankful for the good things.
A life of rich fulfillment comes to those who
are also thankful for the setbacks.

Gratitude can turn a negative into a positive.
Find a way to be thankful for your troubles,
and they can become your blessings.

~Author Unknown

4 Self-defeating Things Nannies Do

August 20, 2014


page17-upset-woman-3-3-2Written by Sue Downey and originally posted here on the Nannypalooza blog.

I was thinking about all the ways we do not work in our own best interests.

  1. Nannies take jobs that pay under the table. Don’t shake your head- statistics say that more nannies than not at some point have taken a job off the books. We do it for a variety of reasons- we can’t find another job, we need the money to make ends meet, there are lots of excuses both good and bad. The reality of the situation is that we owe it to ourselves and to our fellow nannies to not take a job where we are not compensated legally. Not only does it hurt you- (no worker’s comp, social security etc…) it also teaches employers that it is possible to hire a good nanny and not pay taxes. The only way to force parents to pay is when they can’t find any nannies who will work without being paid legally.
  2. Nannies can be overly critical of parents and other nannies. Okay, we all do it. We know we are right so we judge the parents or other nannies who sleep train, potty train or discipline the “wrong” way. We think that nanny is not “professional” or these moms never want to spend any time with their own kids. It’s normal to judge others. It happens all the time. But the sooner we can walk away from those thoughts and find an accepting way of dealing with those who think or act differently than us, the sooner we can truly build a community that will get things done.
  3. Nannies forget that this is a job. The nature of our profession means we form intimate bonds, not only with the kids but with the parents too! It is easy to get lost and feel like family. BUT at the end of the day, this is a job. Yes the bonds we make may last forever and we may become family. However, in the day to day there are going to be days where we are going to be treated as an employee. It may not feel good, but it is the truth. We have to approach our nannying like it is a job too which means keeping our skills sharp, keeping accurate records and approaching our days with intention and best practices.
  4. Nannies forget to take care of themselves. To be a good nanny, you must at heart be a caretaker. This means taking care of yourself too! This doesn’t mean just eating well and exercising. It means saying no and not feeling guilty. It means finding a way to nourish your soul and replenish your spirit. It means saving for your retirement and being prepared for an emergency. 

Are there any others things you have seen that nannies do to sabotage themselves??

16 Things A Nanny Should Know By The First Day On The Job

August 6, 2014

Photo by __ via Flickr Creative Commons.

By Sheri Lopez, originally posted here.

As a nanny, there is a lot of emphasis placed on standing out during an interview. Naturally we want to do a great job letting potential employers know why we are the best candidate for their childcare position, but I think there may be too much focus on getting the job and not enough planning for what happens if you do get the job.

The first day of work for a nanny can be exciting and stressful at the same time. It’s exciting to start a new chapter in your nanny career with a new family and new children to nurture and guide. However, there can be a lot of stress that comes from new routines, being in a new home, adapting to a new family structure, and learning the inner workings of the home.

1. Keys Please

Get a key for the house and know where the spare key is hidden. Some families do not like to give out keys to their home; instead they give the garage door code. If this is the way they choose to handle entry to their home, be sure to remember the code and how to enter it on the key pad. If you need to write it down until you remember it, that’s okay, just do not share the code with others and once memorized, destroy the piece of paper. Know gate codes and obtain any key cards or passes needed to access the home, property, community center, activities or the children’s school, too.

2. Know Your Numbers

These days most communication is done using our cell phones, which is how most nannies communicate with parents. You should also have the parents’ business numbers programed in your cell phone. You never know when a parent may leave their cell phone at home or in the car.

3. In Case of Emergencies

Get emergency contact numbers of several relatives, friends, and neighbors. We are a very mobile society, so it’s wise to have a long list of people to call if you need them.

4. Service calls

Know when the landscaper or pool service person is coming. Plan ahead if animals need to be let out. It is also a good time to make sure all the doors to the home are locked and that you have your cell phone with you. Ask the parents if these service providers have a regular schedule they follow and know whether they call in advance of arriving or if they just show up? Knowing this helps you plan, prepare, and stay focused while strangers are on the property.

5. Phone-y Business

Always keep your cell phone with you. It is important to be able to get to your phone quickly in the event of an emergency. I always wear pants or shorts with pockets, so I just slip my cell phone in one and it stays there all day. Establish how communication will flow, via phone, text, or email, and which parent is the final decision maker if the parents give you different answers to your questions.

6. Safety First

Know the location of all first aid kits in the home and what’s in them. Know where the thermometer is kept and how it works. Find out where medications are stored that the children may need while in your care; know the dosage amount and when to give it. Be sure you know how to operate any medical equipment the children use, such as a nebulizer or EpiPen®. Make sure to obtain permission before giving medication to children. Also be sure to record the time, date, dosage amount, and any reactions for the parents’ review and record keeping. Know CPR, first aid, and how to swim. Ask where the family’s emergency meeting place is and whether they have an emergency code word. Where are fire extinguished located in the home? Have you ensured that they are not expired? Where are the smoke detectors? Are they operating correctly? Are there carbon monoxide monitors in the home?

7. Medical Matters

Get a signed, dated, and notarized (if needed) medical release form for each child, granting permission for you to make the decision to treat each child in the event of an emergency. Also get a letter of permission from the parents for you to take the children to the doctors.

8. School Daze

Submit all necessary forms granting you permission to remove your charges from the school property.

9. Appliance Heaven

Make sure you know how to operate the dishwasher, dryer, washing machine, TV, microwave, oven, stove, door locks (some are self-locking), what dishes the children can use, and if and when the children are allowed to use the TV, computer, iPad, or phone. Also ask the parents to show you how to operate all childproofing items in the home. Be aware of what cleaning products the parent’s want you to use to clean the children’s clothes, toys and belongings.

10. Pet Perfect

If your NannyFamily has animals, know what you are to do with them when you leave for an outing during your workday. Are dogs to be left outside or kenneled? Know if and when you are to feed them.

11. A Signed Agreement

Make sure your work agreement is complete and signed and you and the parents each have copies for your records. This should include the agreed-upon pay, days, hours, and other items.

12. Home Phone Conundrum

Ask if you should answer your NannyFamily’s home phone and if so, know how they would like you to answer it and where you should place any messages.

13. Diaper Days

If you are caring for a child in diapers, know where the extras are stored and what products to use for diaper rash. If a child is potty training, know where clean underwear are kept and learn any potty training routines they may already have in place.

14. Routine

Have a clear understanding of the children’s routines and when and where they have to be dropped off for school or activities. Know the amount of time it takes to drive them to school. This way, if you are in charge of getting them up in the morning you know how early to wake them so that you can plan accordingly. Know what the children’s nap and bedtime routines are. If a bath is to be given, know what products are to be used. Some parents prefer to bathe their own children and put them to bed and prefer that this not be one of the nanny’s tasks.

15. Play Dates

Know where the children are allowed to play in the home and outside and who they are allowed to play with.

16. Ensure That You’re Insured

If you are driving your NannyFamily’s car, be sure to ask how it operates, and if they would like to take a test drive with you before you take the children anywhere. Also discuss whether or not they are covered with the proper vehicle insurance. Know how to operate the children’s car seats. Ask how the hands-free cell phone device, GPS, seats, and temperature controls work, and find out where they keep the car insurance. Go over the rules of the road, such as no texting and only talk to parents while in the car using the hands-free device. Also, it’s a good idea to get the lay of the land with a private tour of the area so you can get your bearings.

Wow! That is a lot to know and be aware of! You have a lot of responsibility! Being prepared is one of the most important parts of our job. Staying one step ahead can ward off potential problems and allow you to enjoy your new job!

Banking Hours – Why It Does Not Pay Off

July 30, 2014

Originally posted here by Breedlove & Associates.

The Lawson family wanted to take an impromptu vacation after Mr. Lawson received a promotion. The family scrambled plans together and organized a five day reprieve from work and responsibility. The best part of the trip for Mr. and Mrs. Lawson would be the opportunity to take their first vacation with their two-year-old son who was usually supervised during the day by the family’s nanny.

The Mistake

The Lawson’s nanny was their first household employee. They were paying her on the books for the (generally) 40 hours per week she worked (8 hours per day, Monday through Friday) and even gave her five paid vacation days per year. The family chose to not take their nanny on vacation with them and let her know she could simply take the week off. However, they did not discuss how this time off would be interpreted with respect to her vacation time.

Several months after the Lawsons came back from their vacation, their nanny requested to take all five of her paid vacation days to spend time with her parents and extended family who lived several states away. The family informed her that they already paid for her vacation days when they took their trip. However, to avoid conflict, the Lawsons let the nanny take her vacation with the agreement that they would bank those 40 hours by having her work an extra two hours “off the clock” every day for next four weeks after she returned.

The Law

Federal wage and hour law does not allow employers to average the hours their employees work across multiple weeks – meaning they should be paid for every hour they work during the workweek the hours are accumulated. The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) defines a workweek as seven consecutive 24-hour periods. Any hours worked in excess of 40 during a workweek are required to be paid at an overtime rate of at least 1.5 times the employee’s regular rate of pay. These laws are in place so employers cannot carry over hours from week to week to avoid paying an employee overtime.

The Mess

After two weeks making up for hours already paid to her, the nanny became frustrated with having to stay late at the Lawson’s home. She confided in her roommate who was attending law school and explained a few things to her about labor law and the FLSA. The nanny confronted the family about the “off the clock” hours and the lack of overtime. She asked that the Lawsons allow her to resume her normal working hours and be paid time-and-a-half for the 20 hours of overtime she had already accumulated. The family, unfamiliar with the law, had to make an emergency call to their accountant to verify what their nanny claimed was true.

The Outcome

The Lawson’s accountant utilized Breedlove & Associates to handle the family’s payroll and taxes and made a quick call to our office. A consultant informed her that the family indeed had to pay their nanny for the 20 hours of overtime she worked. Because the nanny was earning $18/hour, the 20 hours of overtime resulted in an additional $540 in gross wages having to be added to the nanny’s next paycheck. The financial dispute between the family and the nanny ultimately created an awkward employer/employee relationship for both parties and the Lawson’s nanny quit after the end of the calendar year.

How the Whole Thing Could Have Been Avoided

If the Lawsons and the nanny had discussed how the family’s vacation would be viewed before they left, each side could have avoided the initial conflict. Additionally, the family could have reached out to Breedlove & Associates – or asked their accountant to do so on their behalf – before deciding to carry over the nanny’s hours. When there are variances from the normal workweek, it’s important for employers to verify all labor laws are followed before proposing or agreeing to any changes.

4 Stress-less Tips For Working Moms

July 3, 2014

working_mom_with-babyOriginally posted here.

Stressed? Feeling guilty? These feelings are just part of being a mom — especially if you are working full time. But there is no need for you to let your worries or feelings of guilt get in your way of being both a great mom and employee.

MANAGING FAMILY AND WORK

It’s no surprise that moms who work full time jobs feel the strain of their extra-busy lives. In fact, 99 percent of working mothers say their schedules stress them out.

It is natural to feel guilty about leaving your kids with a caretaker or to feel overwhelmed about keeping your boss, clients and family happy. Take action to stomp out some of that stress and manage your guiltduring Stress Awareness Month and all year long.

1. Share the load

More often these days, dads are stepping in to take on parenting duties. A recent study by the Families and Work Institute found that fathers spend an hour more a day with their kids than dads did 25 years ago. Dad’s participation can come in especially handy when the kids get sick or when you just cannot make that parent-teacher conference. So when it comes to parenting, don’t hesitate to share the load of responsibilities with your partner.

2. Make your schedule flexible

If you’re feeling super stressed, ask your employer about rearranging your schedule so that you work four days instead of five, or have every other Friday off. This may incur a pay cut, but it might be worth it to strike that delicate balance between your career and kids. But if a flexible schedule is not feasible, try to pick one evening or weekend day when you can focus solely on your family. That means turn off the laptop, leave your cell at home and hit the playground. In addition to being a stellar mom, this play time away from the job will recharge your batteries, and you can return to work fresh and less stressed.

3. Find perspective

If you are at work right now, you’re probably wishing you were at home. But guess what? You may not be that much more satisfied if you stayed at home full time. According to Dr. Leon Hoffman, director of the Pacella Parent Child Center, many working mothers wish they were home with their children, and while at home, wish they were back at work. Bottom line? Being a mom is a tough job, no matter how you slice it. But if you gain perspective on your situation and are confident about why you’re working (or staying at home — whatever the case may be), you can get through even the toughest days with less guilt.

4. Stress less for the kids

Here is some good news for working moms. Research shows that children who go to daycare are not destined for delinquency. A study measuring the development of more than 6,000 children found that those with moms who work outside the home experience no permanent damage because of the maternal absence. And according to Ellen Galinsky, president of the Families and Work Institute, more kids prefer to have their parents be less stressed out and tired than actually with them 24/7.

In a recent issue of The American Psychoanalyst, Galinsky writes,”Does this finding mean that children do not care about time? No. Children care about parents being less stressed because they do care about the time spent together.” So instead of worrying about the number of hours you spend at home, focus instead on having fun with your family when you are with them.

4 Great Questions for the Nanny Job Interview

May 27, 2014

Originally posted here.

Interviewing for a new nanny job doesn’t have to be stressful if you are prepared. The family will ask questions so they can get to know you, your experience, education and what you might have to offer them. The answers you give to their questions will be important, but keep in mind that the nanny job interview should not be a 1-way street.

It is in your best interest to ask the parents questions that will help you find out if this family is a good fit for you.  Considering accepting a position without enough information to make an educated decision may result in an unhappy work environment.

Here are 4 important types of questions to ask during a nanny interview: 

1. Parenting Style: There are many different ‘parenting styles’ in practice today and it is important to know the parents beliefs about what their child’s daily routine, activities will be as well as what the families discipline style is.  Asking these types of questions will help you decide if the family’s parenting style is one you can work with.

2. Hours, Schedule and Compensation: Obviously you will want to ask about the days and hours the family will want you to work. You need to know the schedule they are looking to fill to see if you can accommodate their needs. It is also important to ask what the pay is along with other benefits offered like health insurance reimbursements, paid time off, reimbursement for driving and expenses and how you will be paid.  You are a professional and it is important confirm that the family you are interviewing with is willing to create a work agreement and to pay you legally.

3. Medical Conditions: As a potential caregiver, you will want to fully understand any medical conditions or allergies the child might have.  It is also important to understand how involved in the support of the condition the parents would want you to be.  Will they expect you to take the child to MD appointments or therapy?  Will you be administering special medication that will require training?  Keep in mind that this child will be in your care and you need to feel comfortable managing any medical conditions or allergies.  If it is a job that you are truly interested in pursuing, doing a little research before an interview can be very helpful while discussing the medical condition and it makes a great impression!

4. Parental Expectations: It is easy to become so excited during the interview process about a potential position that you assume you understand what the parent will be expecting of you.  However, it is unwise to take any job without fully understanding what the parents see as your role in the family.  What will the job duties will be outside of caring for the children? What does the child’s routine look like? Do the children have outside activities? Will the nanny use her care for transportation to activities or is there a car that the nanny uses? How do the parents want to keep communication open?.

Asking questions during a nanny job interview not only helps you understand the family better but shows that you are outgoing, informed and a professional.  You will be working side-by-side with this family, therefore you need to be aware of how the family home operates before you say ‘yes’ to the job.

INA members Marcia Hall and Sheri Lopez contributed this article.

Celebrating New Year’s Eve with Your Kids

December 28, 2013

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Originally posted here.

RING IN THE NEW YEAR TOGETHER

Although New Year’s Eve is typically considered a holiday for the grown-ups, celebrating with your kids can be such a blast! Here are some fun ideas for ringing in the new year with your kids, including party ideas, fun crafts and ways to celebrate without keeping them up until midnight.

Change your time zone

There’s no doubt that the best and most festive way to celebrate the arrival of the new year is watching the ball drop in Times Square in New York City, but we all know that keeping little ones up until midnight will make for a very rough start to the new year! For families on the West Coast, the major news stations air coverage from Times Square at 9 p.m. EST, so families can join in on the fun without having to stay awake so late.

Break out the glitter

Use the day to take down your Christmas decorations — if you haven’t already — and put up some New Year’s Eve decor! Cover plain party hats with glitter by spraying them with spray glue and then letting the kids go to town sprinkling glitter on them (may we suggest doing this in the garage?). Prepare for the big countdown by making paper poppers that can be filled with confetti — use a toilet paper roll and wrap it in a couple sheets of tissue paper, closing the ends with curling ribbon.

Make a time capsule

You don’t have to dig a hole in the backyard to create a memorable time capsule with your kids. In fact, this can easily become a fun and special New Year’s tradition for your family! Print out a survey that every family member needs to complete, with questions such as these: What’s your favorite food right now? What is the best thing you did this year? Include the survey and a photograph of each family member and put them all in a special box. Add to the time capsule each year with the same survey of questions. It will be so fun to read from year to year and even five or 10 years down the road!

Throw a family-friendly bash

Remember all those friends that you used to spend New Year’s Eve with, pre-kids? Well, now that you’re all in the same parenting boat, there’s no reason why you still can’t get together to celebrate the new year! Invite them all over with their kids and throw a big, family-friendly New Year’s Eve bash, complete with champagne… and juice boxes. Tell your friends to bring pajamas for the kids and set up movies, popcorn and sleeping bags for the little ones so that everyone can stay as late as possible.

Get inspired

The simplest but also the most memorable thing you can do with your kids on New Year’s Eve is to sit down as a family and make a plan for the year to come. Get a big piece of poster board and go crazy brainstorming things you want to do as a family, places you want to travel, projects to conquer and goals to accomplish.

50 Holiday Traditions

December 19, 2013

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Originally posted here.

The holiday season is a time to build lifelong memories with your family. Traditions also help you bond and reconnect with loved ones, friends, and neighbors.

Creating traditions takes just a little time and energy to plan. We’ve put together a list of fifty traditions to inspire your own holiday traditions and make the season a little brighter. These are real traditions submitted by families who use Cozi.

Holiday food traditions

1. Make traditional dishes for your holiday meals and include foods from your culture or foods you ate growing up. Ask for recipes from relatives to keep your family food traditions alive.

2. Organize a cookie-baking party. Invite friends and family, or a group of your kids’ friends. Ask everyone to bring their favorite holiday cookie recipe.

3. Make the same entree for Christmas Eve (such as stew) and Christmas Day (ham or turkey) every year. Or, choose a side-dish that becomes the yearly tradition, even if it’s just for laughs.

4. Make a gingerbread house with your family. Those pre-made sets make it easy and provide you with everything you’ll need! Another option is to use graham crackers, some royal icing and candy you’ve saved for this purpose.

Neighborhood and community traditions 

5. Get a handful of friends together and go caroling. You’ll be surprised by how well-received your singing group is, even if you’re out of tune!

6. See a local production of ‘The Nutcracker,’ ‘A Christmas Carol,’ or another holiday-themed show.

7. Check out holiday lights in your area. Get in the car, turn on your holiday playlist, and find brightly lit houses.

8. Record local holiday events on your calendar. Most cities have concerts, festivals, plays, and more to celebrate the season.

9. Walk door to door delivering Christmas cookies after you’ve made a batch.

10. Go visit Santa! Do your research and find out what times of the day are best to this, like mid-week during the evening.

11. Go sledding, ice skating, or other outdoor winter activity with your family. A great time time to schedule this is on Christmas day, after the gifts are opened, the meal is eaten, and everyone is getting antsy from being inside.

Around the home holiday traditions

12. Start the ‘Elf on a Shelf’ tradition. Your kids will love it and it will keep them on their best behavior!

13. Read holiday books before bed each night. The Polar ExpressSanta Mouse, and How the Grinch Stole Christmas are all excellent tales to boost your family’s holiday spirit.

14. Go to a tree farm to locate the perfect Christmas tree. At home, decorate it as a family or let the kids do their thiing. Have some treats and hot cider or cocoa on hand to keep energy levels up!

15. Create a holiday playlist that your family listens to in the car or at home. Don’t forget classics like ‘White Christmas,’ ‘I’ll Be Home For Christmas,’ and ‘The 12 Days of Christmas.’

16. Use an advent calendar to count down to Christmas. There are many varieties of advent calendars, from candles that are burned daily to boxes you open daily.

17. Set aside one night each week to watch a holiday movie or television special, such “Miracle on 34th Street” and “A Charlie Brown Christmas.”

18. Have your child start an ‘I Am Thankful’ list. Have him add one thing he is thankful for each day. You can turn this into a decoration by having him write it on a paper Christmas tree or snowflake that you then hang across the fireplace or some other area.

19. Purchase or make a holiday ornament for each child every year. This is a great reason to reminisce during holiday decorating.

20. Sit down with your child and write a letter to Santa.

21. As a family, write your holiday letter. Have each member contribute one memorable moment from the year to be recorded to share with friends and family.

22. Make holiday decorations yourself! Decorate windows with paper snowflakes, glue glitter onto pinecones and arrange in a bowl, and visit kid-friendly crafts sites to get creative and fun ideas that will involve your children.

23. Start a holiday village display. Add a new house or shop to your display each year.

24. Camp out in front of your Christmas tree one night. Keep the tree lights on, read holiday stories, and snack on holiday treats.

Giving back holiday traditions

25. Volunteer your time as a family at a soup kitchen or a food bank that hands out food to families in need.

26. Find a giving tree that allows you to sponsor a family in need or purchase toys for children in need. Go shopping for the items together and donate them.

27. Start a canned food drive in your neighborhood or at your child’s school. Ask neighbors to donate canned and non-perishable foods, then donate them to a food bank.

28. Go through closets and donate gently used clothing (coats are particularly useful this time of year) to a local shelter.

29. Hold a book drive and ask coworkers, friends, neighbors, and family to donate books for kids that you can give to your local library, elementary school, or family shelter.

30. Deliver cookies and treats to your local fire station, police department, and even the staff at your local hospital. After all, they’ll be working through the holiday.

31. Don’t forget senior citizens! Volunteer time at your local senior citizens center or see if there is a giving tree specifically for the residents.

Holiday gift traditions

32. Draw names in your immediate family and make a gift for that person. It can be as easy as a playlist for an MP3 player or a photobook of your family’s greatest moments of the year.

33. If gifts have been sent from relatives that are far away (like grandparents), use Skype or another video chat service when they are opened so everyone can share in the joy.

34. Spend a day, and possibly a night, in a local metropolitan area and get your holiday shopping completed. Ask your mom, sister, or sisters-in-law to come along!

35. Pick names randomly and only give gifts to the person whose name you draw. Set a dollar limit to keep it even and have fun!

36. If your extended family is large, make a deal among the adults to buy gifts for only the kids of the family.

37. Spend Thanksgiving night planning your Black Friday. Check out all the sales, map your route, and make your list.

38. Start a gag gift tradition. Give a funny gift to a family member. Each year, pass the gift on to another unsuspecting family member.

Christmas Eve traditions

39. Open one gift on Christmas Eve.

40. Track Santa’s progress across the globe on NORAD.

41. Make reindeer food on Christmas Eve (oats and candy sprinkles) and toss it on the lawn for Santa’s team of reindeer.

42. Read The Night Before Christmas at bedtime.

43. Leave a ‘trail’ of gifts from the chimney to the tree so show Santa’s route in the house.

44. Get matching pajamas for the kids to wear on Christmas Eve. Talk about a great photo op Christmas morning!

Christmas morning/day traditions

45. Open all the gifts under the tree at 12:01 a.m. on Christmas Day. This works best with older kids and teens.

46. Don’t open presents until after religious services or brunch.

47. Choose a family member at random to pass out gifts to everyone.

48. Call or have a video chat with loved ones who aren’t able to be with your family.

49. Invite family, friends, and neighbors over Christmas evening for games, dessert, and to decompress from the holiday.

50. Go out for breakfast and let someone else do the cooking!

Happy Thanksgiving from Family Helpers

November 27, 2013

Thankful


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