Car Seat Safety

carseatHaving your child driven by someone else is one of the most fraught scenarios for any parent. As a Nanny, it may help the parents you work for to know that you have a clean driving record, a safe vehicle and the complete knowledge of car-seat safety and law.

Buckling up is the single most effective thing you can do to protect yourself and your passengers in a crash. It is extremely important to make sure all children riding in your car are properly secured before every trip. Most collisions occur within a mile of the home – so buckle your child in a safety seat for every trip, no matter how short.

If you’re not confident of how to properly secure your child in a safety seat, ask your employer to provide a demonstration for you. You can also contact your local CHP Area Office, and ask to speak with a child passenger safety technician. Click on this link to locate a local area office anywhere in California.

  • Children under the age of 8 must be secured in a car seat or booster seat in the back seat.
  • Children who are either (i) 8 years of age or (ii) have reached 4 feet, 9 inches in height may be secured by a safety belt in the back seat.
  • Passengers who are 16 years of age and over are subject to California’s mandatory seat belt law.

A new law to be aware of is that effective January 1, 2017, children under 2 years of age must ride in a rear-facing car seat unless the child (i) weighs 40 pounds or more or (ii) is 40 or more inches tall. The child must be secured in a manner that complies with the height and weight limits specified by the manufacturer of the car seat.

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How to make a good impression on a Skype interview

Skype Blog

Skype interviews combine the best of both worlds – if you don’t live locally, you get to meet a prospective employer virtually while saving time and money on travel. However, it can be difficult to express your interest in the position and connect with the employer if you’re not careful. Here are a few things to keep in mind so you can rock your online interview.

  1. Dress appropriately. Just because the interview isn’t in-person doesn’t mean you should be more casual with your approach. We would suggest dressing a step up from how you would for an in-home interview. You won’t be getting down on the ground and playing with children in this interview, so save your more casual wear for the trial.
  2. Look at the camera, not the screen. It’s tempting to watch yourself or your interviewer during a Skype session, but looking directly at the video camera is the only way to maintain direct eye contact with your interviewer.
  3. Watch your body language. Have good posture and try to relax. Not all body language cues are translated over the computer, so that make the ones that do even more important.
  4. Have your resume in front of you. You want to be prepared with your dates of employment, ages of children and responsibilities so you can focus on the employer and easily relay your background and experience.
  5. Close other programs on your computer. You want to be present, focused and making a good first impression. If reminders or text messages pop up you may get distracted. Simplify your screen so you can keep full attention on the interviewer.

Good luck!

Ask MaryPat: How to Find Creative Activities for Toddlers

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MaryPat doesn’t fly around with a black umbrella, but she does have over 20 years of experience as a Child Development Expert and over 10 years experience as a Placement Counselor in our Palo Alto office. She’s has a wealth of knowledge and we’re confident you will find her advice spot-on!

Dear MaryPat,
The children I care for love doing arts and crafts projects and really look to me to find activities for them to do. I seem to be running out of good ideas! Help! -Katie

Dear Katie,

Children all have different interests and favorite games. Many nannies find that doing a craft based around a holiday can be fun and interesting. Other ideas could be going for a nature walk and then decorating a frame with the treasures they have found. Pinterest, KiwiCrate, Michaels and PBS.org are all websites where you can find timely and unique art projects, as well as indoor and outdoor game ideas.

Some of the children I know love making a fort in the living room and getting to have lunch (with permission) there for the day. Baking cookies is another fun activity and it can also be a great math lesson with the measuring.

Don’t forget to check out your local library. They often have holiday and seasonal books that can make reading time more interesting to a child. You don’t need to try to be Martha Stewart with your crafts – just have fun with your charges and don’t be afraid to get messy!

Baking Holiday Treats with the Kids!

Holiday-BakingThere is so much excitement in the air during this time of year. Viewing holiday lights, going to holiday parties, completing holiday shopping and doing lots of holiday baking are on everyone’s schedule. It’s no doubt that kids enjoy baking and this is certainly an area of  holiday activity where you can use an extra set of hands. Check out the links below and spend some time in the kitchen with your favorite little ones while making memories and marking an item off your holiday list!

BuzzFeed always has great ideas and they don’t disappoint us on holiday treats either. The site has a lot of fun options that allow kids to get their hands in the mix and put their own creative touch on the treats.

Another good option is Martha Stewart. She’s always good for anything homemade. This link provides easy holiday treats for kids to make from her.

Whatever you end up making with your mini-chef, be sure to take a break, go outside and get some fresh air. You might want to have a few energy draining games in mind for after all the sugar intake!

Holiday Gifting for your Household Employee

Tipping BlogThanksgiving is behind us, holiday music is filling the air of every store you enter and cooler temperatures have moved in – it’s really starting to feel like the holidays. We receive a lot of calls during this time of the year from families asking what year-end bonuses are appropriate for their household employees. 

When in doubt, cash bonuses tend to be preferred. Not only are they the easiest gift to give, they are also the most appreciated. In our experience, the equivalent of one to three weeks salary is about right, depending on the number of years of service. In addition to money, we have compiled a list of gifts that we’ve been told are appreciated in our Top Ten Employee Gifts List.

Your household employees are an integral part of keeping your household running smoothly. Show them that you appreciate them in a manner that is special to you!

Our “Holidays in the Home” Seminar

TableSettingPicture‘Tis the season to be jolly! And “jolly” is definitely one way to describe the feeling that was in our office on Saturday, November 14th when Housekeeper Candidates from around the Bay Area met with Town + Country’s Housekeeper Team for our “Holidays in the Home” seminar. Attendees worked side by side perfecting their silver polishing skills, learning creative new gift wrapping techniques and setting a beautiful and inspiring dining room table after seeing new ideas for napkin folding and place settings.

We enjoyed hearing the stories, laughter and encouragement that was shared. We are grateful to all those who attended and we look forward to seeing you one or all of our seminars in 2016!

Meet Monica, this month’s Candidate of the Month

Monica-RodriguezMonica is a former preschool teacher who has transitioned into working as a full-time Nanny. She has her Psychology degree from San Francisco State University and her teaching credentials from the National Hispanic University in San Jose. Monica has recently been placed in a full-time Nanny position through Town + Country Resources and is thrilled to be spending time with her two charges!

Monica is passionate about caring for children. She has made a lasting impression on many children and their parents. One of her prior families said, “My children absolutely love Monica. She has great energy! Monica is so happy and my children are so happy with her. She is fun, loving and always has funny stories for the children. She likes to joke around in a safe and responsible way. The children always have a great time with her.”

Get to know Monica: 

What does an ideal day with your charges look like?
The most ideal days are the ones filled with curiosity, laughter and imagination! We forget how wondrous it is to see the world with curiosity after years of “life” happening. Children see through a lens that reminds me of this daily. Days where we get to make and create are my favorite. Sure, emptying out lunch boxes, getting homework done and setting out clothes for the next day help mold responsible individuals. However, along with learning responsibility, baking muffins, puppet shows, making forts and going on backyard adventures are the makings of an ideal day.

What do you find most rewarding about being a Nanny?
I enjoy being present for so many of the little moments. So much learning is happening daily for children, and it is an honor to be a part of that. The trust and the bond that is shared with the kids and parents is really quite special. When the fit is just right, I feel like I just can’t wait to see the kids and parents will tell me how the kids have been asking all week “When is Monica coming?”

If you could be any fictional character, who would you choose?
Rafiki from “The Lion King,” HANDS DOWN! His character carries wisdom and compassion. He is all heart. He is presented as a crazy baboon, and he is a bit of a loon, but he has a sharp mind and a wise spirit.

What is your favorite childhood memory?
I can replay my favorite memories as if they happened yesterday like my cousins and I sliding down the stairs in a sleeping bag after we’ve been told not to. Or, playing “house” and our imaginary stove catches fire and we have to run away screaming. We could never bore from playing Easter egg hunt, no matter what day of the year. I also remember playing endless hours of Disney tag through the sprinklers on the lawn on warm summer nights.

What event, past, present or future, would you want to see if given the chance?
In a few years, when the amazing kids I get to work with invent a time machine, I am going back to the late 1950’s to see Elvis Presley live and in concert.

Meet our new Counselors!

The Palo Alto and Oakland offices of Town + Country are happy to introduce two new faces on our Nanny and Housekeeper teams. Monique and Emily are both fantastic additions to our committed teams and we can’t wait for you to meet them!


Monique Gutierrez

Monique-WebGet to know Monique:
Monique was born and raised in the Bay Area as the eldest of three in a large, close knit family. Growing up, she helped care for her siblings and as a result she is incredibly passionate for the well being of youth and children. Monique earned her Bachelor’s degree in Interdisciplinary Studies from Northwest University in Kirkland, Washington and nannied for families in Washington and California throughout college and for a year afterwards. In her free time, she enjoys spending time outdoors on adventures with her family and her significant other. Monique is incredibly excited to be part of the Town + Country team placing passionate candidates in loving homes.

Monique has joined the Peninsula Nanny team as a Recruiting Counselor.

How would your friends describe you?
“My friends would describe me as fun-loving, kind and open to new adventure. They will tell you that I have many hobbies in many different categories. I enjoy the outdoors and getting dirty, I enjoy watching football and yelling at the top of my lungs. Yet, I have no problem settling down with a book and a cup of coffee snuggled up indoors for hours on end. My friends might also describe me as someone who cannot sit still for too long or feel comfortable sitting inside without becoming antsy and anxious. Unless, of course, coffee and books are involved.”

If you could go back in time, what year would you travel to?
“It’s a toss up between the ’20s and ’70s. I absolutely love the culture of these two decades. I feel as though these time periods produced unique styles and great music that cannot be duplicated just right in our modern times.”

When you were a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
“When I was a child I wanted to be a teacher, which comes from my longing to continually grow and learn individually, as well as with others.”


Emily Bennetch

IMG_1834Get to know Emily:
Emily was born in Seattle and raised in Broomfield, Colorado. She completed her Bachelor’s degree in Individual and Family Development from Seattle Pacific University. Emily has over ten years of experience caring for children and elderly in their homes. She finds great purpose in partnering with families to help fill their needs at any stage and is thrilled to be part of the Town + Country Resources Housekeeper team.  Emily lives in Stanford with her husband. She enjoys traveling, making jewelry, cooking and getting over to the ocean as often as possible.

Emily has joined the Housekeeper team as a Recruiting Counselor.

If you could be a fictional character, who would it be?
“I would want to be The Little Mermaid. I always wanted to be her when I was a little girl. I would love to live under the sea and I also remember loving the dresses she wore when she was a human.”

If you could paint a picture of any scenery you’ve personally seen what would it be?
“Being a visual person there are so many sights captured in my mind. Some of my favorites are the golden light falling over the tops of the roofs and domes of Florence, the backdrop of the Pitons over the still water in St. Lucia, the silhouette of an acacia tree in an African sunset and the vibrant colors in a farmer’s market in Sicily.”

What is your greatest accomplishment?
“My greatest accomplishment is being the first woman in my maternal line to graduate from college.”

Ask MaryPat: Arranging Time Off During the Holidays

3856777MaryPat doesn’t fly around with a black umbrella, but she does have over 20 years of experience as a Child Development Expert and over 10 years experience as a Placement Counselor in our Palo Alto office.  She’s has a wealth of knowledge and we’re confident you will find her advice spot-on!
Dear MaryPat,
How can I arrange to take time off around the holidays? Thank you for your advice!
-Alicia

Dear Alicia,

Not all families offer paid time off, and it is not something that they are required to offer, but when families hire through Town + Country we suggest that they offer paid paid time off for major holidays and two weeks of paid vacation time. In addition, we always suggest to both nannies and families that at least one of those two weeks of your vacation time be coordinated with the family’s vacation, so that you will continue to be paid when the family goes on vacation.

We recommend that families provide a clear written work agreement that outlines your responsibilities, hours and how time off will be handled. If you do not have a written agreement you can ask your employer for one.
It is also best to have a clear plan for paid holidays, including a list of paid holidays in your work agreement. Common holidays include Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day and New Year’s Day. Your employer may ask you to provide notice when requesting vacation time off, and as we mentioned above, they are also likely to ask you to coordinate some of your vacation time with their family’s vacation plans. I recommend that you bring your desired dates to your employer with as much notice as possible and have a two-way conversation to coordinate dates that work for all of you. The sooner you can talk about time off the better, so families can make alternate arrangements for their children if necessary.

If you are meeting with them to discuss holiday plans you may also want to map out some of your dates for 2016 as well.

-MaryPat

Teaching Independence

4144821Yes, it may be easier to pick up the toys, put away the laundry or put the dishes away your self, but by asking your charge to help you out you are teaching responsibility and independence.

We know you’ve heard it a hundred times, but by spending the extra few minutes now you’re helping your charge build confidence and a life-long skill of perseverance. Don’t expect things to be perfect. As a matter of fact, give up the idea that it will be.

Encourage your charge to do their best and if you’d like to see changes, try a positive approach, maybe “I hadn’t thought of doing it that way. Would you like to see how I do it?” If they’re not interested in your way, don’t stress. Enjoy the help and the smile on your charge’s face when they accomplish a task. Don’t forget to praise their efforts along the way, your approval means the world to them!

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