Bonuses & Gifts for your Household Employee at the Holidays

CBP1054818Are you making your list and checking it twice? ‘Tis the season to have those around you feel special. Whether you’re thanking your Nanny for the presence they have in your children’s lives or your Executive Assistant for keeping your business running smoothly, continual small gestures or a larger annual one will make your employee feel good this holiday season!

If you’re happy with the work your household employee has done for you and your family this year, why not show them how you feel? The holiday season is here and this is a perfect opportunity to show them just how grateful you are. 

When it comes to holiday tipping, there are no hard and fast rules. How much you give largely depends on what you feel you can afford and the quality of service you receive. That said, there are certain gifts our Candidates tell us are particularly coveted. Here’s our updated annual top ten list:

  1. Money Talks. The time-tested cash bonus is always appreciated and is the gift of choice for about half of the families we work with. How much to give? A good rule of thumb is one to three week’s salary depending on the number of years of service.
  2. Pick Up The Tab. Give them a night out on the town with a gift certificate to a special restaurant or movie passes.
  3. Deck Their Halls. Send a little holiday cheer their way with a wreath, floral arrangement or potted plant.
  4. Put It In Writing. Take time out to compose a handwritten note expressing how much your employee means to you, your family and your children.
  5. Share Their Passion. Let them know you’re interested in the life they lead outside your home with a gift that feeds their passion, such as a wine tasting class, a subscription to a gardening magazine or theater or event tickets.
  6. Let Them Play Hooky. Who wouldn’t love an unexpected day off? Paid, of course.
  7. Get Personal. Traditional picture frames, key rings and bracelets become much more special when personalized with their monogram.
  8. A Moment’s Peace. Ahh, the gift of relaxation. Send them to the spa with a gift certificate for a facial, manicure, pedicure or massage.
  9. Send Them Packing. Help them turn their dream vacation into a reality with the gift of your frequent flyer miles.
  10. Child’s Play. Collaborate with your child to produce a homemade gift from the heart, such as a basket of cookies or a framed piece of art.

As you consider what to give this season, keep in mind that the most important message you can send is heartfelt appreciation for all that they do for you, your household and your family. After all, it is true what they say: It’s the thought that counts.

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Laughter and Learning at T+C Seminars

nsemWe love to host seminars for Town + Country candidates and we were thrilled to be able to host two in a week! Our Housekeeper and Nanny each hosted their own seminars this past week and both met with experienced, motivated and fun women to discuss the upcoming holidays and provide new ideas on how to make this crazy time of year a bit more manageable.

The “Holidays in the Home” seminar, hosted by the Housekeeper team, reviewed holiday preparation tips that included silver polishing, tips for cleaning silver and china, formal table setting and pre and post holiday party cleaning.

The Nanny team hosted the hands-on “Creative Seasonal Food & Crafts” seminar that had everyone making Thanksgiving Oreo Turkeys, a holiday birdseed craft and paper doll chains.

Participants in both groups enjoyed spending time sharing personal tips, stories of success and catching up with T+C employees and friends and felt confident taking fresh ideas and skills to their employer’s home.

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We have one more seminar coming up this week, hosted by our Estate Staffing Team, where attendees will hone gift wrapping skills and learn some new, festive decorating ideas that will be sure to warmly greet visitors during the holidays. If you are interested in attending, be sure to register here!

Be on the lookout for our seminars in 2017 – we’re going to have a full schedule and you don’t want to miss out!

 

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Ask Us! How do I keep outings and activities fresh?

1488520We don’t  fly around with a magic umbrella or claim to have the skills of Mary Poppins, but our Nanny Team Counselors do have over 100 years of combined experience placing great Nanny candidates in childcare jobs all over the Bay Area. When it comes to navigating the world of professional in-home childcare, we’ve just about seen it all. So go ahead, Ask Us!

I have been working with my charges for three years and often find myself repeating the same activities and outings over and over again. How do I keep it fresh and new for them? I’d like to challenge them in an effort to accelerate their various developmental stages and to keep them excited.

With today’s technological advances, there are many resources for you to discover new and exciting activities for you and your charges! Pinterest is a great resource and offers many age-appropriate activities for children. You can narrow searches down by specifying seasons, holidays, months, age groups, etc. If technology isn’t your thing, you can easily do research with your eyes and ears:

  1. Talk to other Nannies! What are some projects that they engage their charges in?
  2. Be sure to keep a pen and note pad with you at all times! You never know when an idea is going to plop into your lap. For example, you may be at the park with your charges and overhear another Nanny playing a game you’ve never heard. Ask her what they’re playing and take note!
  3. Do your charges celebrate a specific holiday? Do any of their relatives or friends or stuffed animals have a birthday coming up? Together you can make cards, construction paper chains, decorations or masks.
  4. With the permission of your charges’ parents, take them to a local pumpkin patch, hiking trail, duck pond or a new park! Are your charges’ of school age? Perhaps they enjoy mini-golfing, bowling, frisbee or having water balloon fights. Don’t forget to bring a change of clothes for everyone!
  5. Check to see if your local library is having any themed story-time sessions! Or perhaps there is a fun, child-friendly maze nearby!

Check out our Pinterest page for additional fun fall ideas, including the following:

  • Finger painting trees
  • Button trees
  • Painting leaves
  • Apple stamps
  • Paint pumpkins
  • Candy Corn Guys
  • Paper hand wreath
  • Scare-a-crow puppets
  • Paint a pinecone
  • Monster puppets
  • Paper plate witches
  • Paper plate spiders

Happy learning, exploring and building!

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It’s Pumpkin Season!

fan2016960Whether you’re buying a pumpkin for carving, for roasting the seeds or just for fall decorating, living in the Bay Area gives you plenty of options for finding the perfect one. Of course, one of the most common pumpkin hunting spots is in Half Moon Bay, where you’re sure to find a prized round veggie at one of the many pumpkin farms. If you’re not afraid of crowds, and have the patience of a saint, attending the Half Moon Bay Pumpkin Festival might be the most memorable pumpkin picking outing you’ll ever have. This year’s event is held on October 15th and 16th from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm and best of all, it’s free! You can find out more information here.

Once you’ve acquired the perfect pumpkin and you’re ready to decorate it, let your imagination fly. You could have your charge use finger paints, grab some spray paint and a stencil, use paper cutout props or take the old fashioned approach of carving it freestyle.

Whatever you decide to do, have fun doing it. Don’t rush the process and make some lasting memories this fall season!

Ask us! Does Town + Country Resources have temporary work available?

1079265We don’t  fly around with a magic umbrella or claim to have the skills of Mary Poppins, but our Nanny Team Counselors do have over 100 years of combined experience placing great Nanny candidates in childcare jobs all over the Bay Area. When it comes to navigating the world of professional in-home childcare, we’ve just about seen it all. So go ahead, Ask Us!

I’m looking for a new permanent Nanny position but don’t want to show a period of unemployment on my resume. Does Town + Country have any temporary jobs I could work while I’m searching? 

The answer is YES! We are thrilled to be able to present so many great backup care work opportunities! If you’re not yet aware of our Backup Care program, please call our offices at 415-567-0956 or 650-326-8570 and ask to speak with our Temporary Department. We would love to help fill your schedule while you’re looking for a permanent position or to compliment your current position for additional income. Give us a call, we would love to tell you all about it!

Below are five tips from our Backup Care team to help you be the best Backup Care Nanny you can be! 

  1. Be up early! The old saying, “The early bird gets the worm” is most definitely true for Backup Care assignments! Our Backup Care department begins receiving requests at 7:00 am on weekdays and they continue all the way till 9:00 pm on Sunday. The Nannies who are booked most often are those who are up and ready to hit the road by 7:30 am.
  2. Confirm directly with the Backup Care family as soon as you receive our email. Backup Care positions require that you call the family directly to reconfirm as soon as you’re booked. Families can be very sensitive to this, and some have canceled care when a Nanny fails to call them directly to reconfirm. Please make sure you develop a habit of calling to confirm as soon as you see our email confirmation in your inbox. If there is a particular reason you cannot call the family immediately, just communicate that to us so that we may set their expectations appropriately. Please be sure to reconfirm the job details, including location, during the call.
  3. Be your best self in the confirmation call! Families want to hear a friendly, professional voice that puts them at ease about leaving their child with someone they’ve not yet met. Smile as you speak to them – they can hear it! Ask questions that show you care about their child’s experience and their preferences as parents. Reconfirm the date, hours, location and contact information. In short, impress them! If you make them feel comfortable during the confirmation call and do a great job on the assignment, you can be sure that they’ll request you back time and again!
  4. Avoid cell phone use while working. We would like you to be focused on your charges while you’re working. Please keep your cell phone out of sight and only use it for emergencies, or to communicate with the parents throughout the day if they request that you do that.
  5. Log your hours in a timely manner! We send automatic email reminders, but we would like our Backup Care Nannies to be in the habit of logging their hours on our website immediately after completing the assignment. Reporting your hours promptly helps make sure that there won’t be any delay in getting paid. Backup Care hours need to be reported by Monday morning at 10 am so that your payment can be processed via direct deposit on Wednesday morning.

Helping Your Charges Develop Good Manners

1039290-2Manners and etiquette include a large measure of personal preferences and can vary greatly from family to family. Most Moms and Dads want their children to have manners, but teaching them can be a frustrating process.

Consistency is important, so talk to your charges’ parents and see what they are doing to encourage manners. Once you have an idea of which manners are important to them and what they are doing with their children, you can focus on these manners together, and your efforts will be consistent with your charges’ parents’ efforts as well.

If possible, meet with the parents and make a list of manners that you would like to work on. Focusing on a few manners at a time usually is most successful with children. For instance, you can work on saying “please” and “thank you,” using a napkin at mealtimes and looking someone in the eye when being introduced and saying “hello.” While you will have to remind the children at first, hopefully these manners become second nature. Try to recognize them when they do something without asking and praise them for it.

Once they have mastered a few, add a few new ones. Keep the parents up-to-date on their progress as well. Manners go a long way in life and your charges will eventually thank you for taking the time to teach them!

Getting into the Back-to-School Swing!

Young couple walking together --- Image by © Rachel Frank/Corbis

The start of school can be tricky after a nice, fun, relaxing summer break. Here are a few helpful hints to help transition back-to-school in a smooth manner.

Make room in the pantry or refrigerator for designated snacks. Not only will you have foods ready to supplement lunch, but those looking for food will know which snacks that they can have, without having to ask you what’s okay to eat or what the portion size should be.

Set expectations. Have a chat about what to expect when school is back in session. Will the children have afterschool activities every day? Will they still be able to play with the neighbors when then get home? Knowing what to expect will allow for a smoother transition when they get home.

Lay out clothing for school the night before. Gone are the days of changing two or three times before heading out the door! The morning can be a time of rush and chaos. Planning ahead will allow everyone to breathe a bit more in the morning. If you have a child that likes options, pull out two outfits that they can choose from. Better yet, place dividers in the closet with a label of Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and have your charge hang up an outfit behind the designated day so clothing is planned out for the week.

Make a calendar with important school dates, after school activities, specified homework time and any other appointments the children have. Assigning a different color for each child is helpful so you can glance ahead and have an idea of what the week looks like for each person in the house.

Set an alarm before bed. If you help get your charges out the door in the morning it might be helpful to make sure they each have their own alarm – not a cell phone or a tablet, but an actual alarm clock. Upper elementary and older children enjoy the responsibility of accomplishing a task on their own time frame. Let them do it. They may surprise you!

4th of July Fun

4th of JulyThis July 4th marks the 240th anniversary of the United State’s Declaration of Independence! And of course, it’s always a great day to barbecue with family and friends, get involved in local parades and play outdoor games. However, if you don’t want to deal with clean-up after a gathering at your place, check out these Bay Area locations where you can have a day full of fun and see spectacular fireworks, all while keeping your home nice and tidy!

San Francisco
Pier 39
Fourth of July Celebration at The PIER. PIER 39 celebrates Independence Day with fun for the whole family featuring musical entertainment by Tainted Love (The Best of the 80’s live), activities, and fireworks. The City of San Francisco will treat spectators to an elaborate fireworks display over the San Francisco Bay at approximately 9:30 p.m.

East Bay
Alameda County Fairgrounds
4th of July Fireworks Spectacular. The show begins at approximately 9:30 p.m. set to music performed by the Oakland Symphony, along with a Salute to Hometown Heroes Video.

USS Hornet MuseumAlameda
Celebrate JULY 4th onboard the Aircraft Carrier USS HORNET. View of surrounding fireworks displays begins around 9:15 p.m. with patriotic music, weather permitting. Please note that the USS Hornet does not host the fireworks show. Throughout the day, enjoy live music, entertainment, carnival games, Flight Simulator, jump house, interactive Games, ship exploration, food, beverages and more. Monday, July 4, 2016, 1 p.m. – 10 p.m. Family activities will be available from 3 p.m. – 9:15 p.m. There will also be live music throughout this time. Tickets for adults are $20, while kids (6-17) are $10. 707 W. Hornet Ave, Alameda. For more information, call (510) 521-8448 x282.

USS Potomac – Oakland
4th of July Fireworks Cruise on San Francisco Bay. Cruise on Franklin Roosevelt’s Floating White House and have desserts, champagne, tea, and coffee while enjoying fireworks displays along the San Francisco Bay. Monday, July 4, 2016, 7:30 p.m. – 10:30 p.m. Yacht docks at Clay St., Jack London Square, Oakland.

Pleasant Hill
Independence Day the Pleasant Hill Way. Fireworks begin around 9:10 p.m., parade at 9:30 a.m., fun at the park at 10:30 a.m., entertainment, games and more.

South Bay
Discovery Meadow, Downtown San Jose
New Century of Service. Enjoy this free, family-friendly event with a fireworks show at approximately 9:30p.m. after dusk with free Symphony Summer Pops music at 5:30 p.m.

Shoreline Amphitheatre
4th of July Fireworks Spectacular With San Francisco Symphony. “A Night At The Movies” with music from Inside Out, Star Wars: The Force Awakens, E.T., Harry Potter and the Sorcerers Stone, Raider of the Lost Ark and more.

Peninsula
Foster City – Leo Ryan Park
Foster City Fourth of July Celebration. Join the City of Foster City and the Lions Club of Foster City for an exciting all-day event filled with games, food, entertainment, dog parade and grand fireworks display! 9:30 p.m.

Redwood City, Downtown
78th Annual 4th of July Parade – A Family 4th. Redwood City’s Fourth of July celebration will feature a parade, floats, food, arts, crafts, entertainment, bands, a kids area and more! From 7:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. there will be a Pancake Breakfast with the Redwood City Fire Department. At 8:45 a.m. the Parade Run 5k will begin (check-in is from 7 a.m. to 8:30 a.m.). A car show starts at 9 a.m., followed by the Redwood City “Best of the West” Parade at 10 a.m. The fireworks show starts at 9:30 p.m., launched from the Port of Redwood City!

North Bay
Dunphy Park in Sausalito
July 4th Parade and Fireworks Extravaganza. An all day celebration from 10 a.m. to 9:30 p.m.! Parade begins at 2nd and Main St., Old Town, near the old Valhalla Restaurant, and goes down Bridgeway and then Caledonia all the way to Dunphy Park on the waterfront near City Hall. Festivities include live music, food, dancing, family games, tug-o-war and the famous Egg Toss! The celebration continues at Gabrielson Park in the evening from 6:30 p.m. – 9:30 p.m. and ends with a fireworks display.

75th Marin County Fair
Fireworks at the Marin County Fair. Fireworks will fill the Marin skies every evening June 30 to July 4th at 9:30 p.m. Enjoy family activities, concerts, bands, farm animals and educational/interactive exhibits, and carnival rides. 10 Avenue of the Flags, San Rafael.

Meet Martha, this month’s Candidate of the Month!

ChristmasMartha is a hands-on Nanny who loves to teach children by guiding them through life experiences and sharing the outdoors with them. She has an outgoing, fun, happy demeanor that shows in the picture here with her two sons, daughter-in-law and their pets.

Martha has a zest for life, has “done it all” and loves children! Martha plays the piano, loves to swim and SCUBA dive, has her Bachelor’s degree in Biology, is a certified Naturalist and has two grown sons.

One of her references said, “Martha has an upbeat, bubbly and positive personality. She is the type of person who would make my day better. Martha is extremely intelligent, articulate and forthcoming with information. She communicated with me through email and text messages. Martha also kept a daily log of what my daughter ate, her naps, activities, etc. She was very easy to talk to and I would say that her greatest strength is her dependability.”

Get to know Martha:

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I have always been happiest when I am immersed in water. I grew up swimming anywhere I could – pools, lakes, rivers, and the Gulf of Mexico. I was an avid water skier at 8, a lifeguard at 15, certified in SCUBA at 16 and a Scientific Diver at 20. No question about it, I wanted to be a Marine Biologist.

Why have you chosen to be a Nanny?
A key theme of my adult life has been teaching children. Whether as a high school science Teacher, full-time Nanny or an at-home Mom, I have had the good fortune to follow my passion for developing the curiosity of young minds through hands-on discovery of the world around us. My theory is that if children are led with wonder and curiosity to make accurate observations of nature and then given the corresponding scientific vocabulary, they may develop an exceptionally deep and connected understanding. I want to continue to teach young minds to have integrity, to reason, to deduce and to look at our world with wonder!

What is your proudest accomplishment as a Nanny?
I am most proud of the job I do when a child smiles up at me with pure happiness that comes from heart-felt trust.

If you could be a super hero what would you power be?
I would love to be able to manipulate time! That incredible power would allow me to go back and experience things like the Ancient Library of Alexandria or look into the smiling faces of my grown sons when they were babies. It would be great around dinner time, too, when I could help with homework and then pause my young charges while I cook!

Keeping the Lines of Communication Open

FAN9035673You love your job. You love the family, the kids, the fun afternoons at the park and the art classes you get to attend with your charge.

You want to be there for your employer whenever they need you, but it seems that too often they approach you with a request that interferes with a prior commitment and you feel guilty not helping out, so you cancel the really fun outing you had with your friends.

Or, maybe you’re an employer and your nanny is the best nanny you’ve ever hired. She’s attentive, she kisses boo-boos, she keeps your place tidy, she’s always on time and you treasure her in your life, but it seems she has made one too many requests to get off early or come in late. You want to help her out, but you hired her because you need her for the full schedule she’d agreed to.

You both want to make things work, but you’re starting to feel a bit taken advantage of. What should you do? Talk. 

Talk about what’s going on. Talk about how you feel when the unexpected requested continually comes up. Talk about how much you enjoy one another and talk about your boundaries. Know what you’re willing to do and how often you’re willing to go out of the normal routine. We all need to be flexible, so try not to feel taken advantage of when you have a request to do something that doesn’t fit with the routine.

Keep the lines of communication open. Have weekly meetings to check in, leave one another notes in the morning or evening if you don’t physically see one another, have a work agreement. T+C highly encourages families and nannies to have a work agreement in place when a new position begins or when job responsibilities change. A well-thought out work agreement should help avoid too many surprises along the way.

The most important thing you can do is talk. Set a time that works for everyone to discuss what’s going on. If you don’t talk about the challenge, it’s not going to go away.

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