Category Archives: child care

Date Night for parents… what’s that? {Giveaway}

Loved the blog post Kelly Krol, Raincity Mama did on the importance of dating as a parent! Like if you agree it is core to keeping love going well past wedding vows…

Raincity Parent

Every parent needs a Date Night once in awhile.

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Unless…you have no child care options available.

Five ways date nights may strengthen couples.

(1) A date night is an opportunity to communicate.
(2) Date nights are valuable for their novelty.
(3) Date nights may strengthen or rekindle that romantic spark that can be helpful in sustaining the fires of love over the long haul.
(4) Date nights may strengthen a couple’s sense of commitment to one another.
(5) Date nights are a way to relieve stress.

The American Red Cross did a poll in 2012 that found that 55% of parents surveyed decided to stay home in the past 24 months, because they couldn’t find a babysitter.

I am totally guilty of this!
20140420-223505.jpg If you are lacking in the child care department, you should check out myBestHelper.
What they do? They make it easy and fast for families to…

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How much do nannies make? Going pay rates and 10 important things to consider

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We often get asked about how much to pay a nanny. Full time live out nanny rates in urban areas in Canada and the US are surprisingly similar. In the greater Vancouver area go from minimum wage to up to $25/hr, with a usual of $12-15/hr for one to three kids depending on the duties, nanny’s experience and on the neighbourhood’s going rate. There are usually legal provisions for live-in caregivers where a set amount for lodging and food is deducted from the salary, making it much more affordable if you have the extra room. Most of our jobs in Vancouver, Calgary and Toronto are listed with rates of $12-15/hr for childcare and $12-20/hr for house cleaning.

Of course, many factors are to be considered when agreeing on the pay rate:

  1. What is the neighborhood’s going rate? There are more similarities between neighborhoods than within a city!
  2. Location and how hard is it to get there (if accessible by public transit, there are usually more candidates to choose from)
  3. Number and age of the children
  4. The level of experience of the helper
  5. Expected duties – such as childcare or more (clean and cook).
  6. Other activities – tutoring, music etc.
  7. Is driving required and if yes, will the nanny have to use her own car?
  8. How quickly does the family need the help and the timing in the year (some peak times in the year are tougher to fill)
  9. The expected duration of the commitment
  10. Is care to be provided within usual or unusual hours, and is there an expectation of additional on-call.

In addition, I encourage both families and helpers to consider the overall revenue and benefit package:

  • Total amount of compensation (food included? transit? medical care? gym? activities?)
  • Flexibility and hours
  • Time to get there vs. length of time at work
  • How much of a fit between personalities and needs there is

So for example, lets say helper Linda has the choice between:

– Family A, offering $15/hr and requiring 8:30am to 3:30pm four days a week. It takes Linda 45 min to get there from her home and they are located far from parks or public transit making it more difficult to find things to do with the toddler she will be in charge of. She would be working for 28 hrs/week, travelling to/from job for 6hrs/week. She would gross $1680/month, but when you include the travelling, she is effectively paid $12.35/hr. That family however is willing to make at least a year commitment.

– Family B is offering $12/hr, but need someone 8:30am to 5:30pm, which means 1hr of overtime a day at 1.5 pay rate, so $18/hr. They are offering a transit pass $91/month and will cover her medical plan fees of $81/month. She would be in charge of two kids, and the house is located near lots of activities she can easily take the kids to. And the big bonus is that is takes her 15 min a day to get there by bus. In this scenario, she would be working for 45 hrs/week, but travelling to/from job for only 2.5hrs/week. She would gross $3220/month, and while she does work longer hours, when you include the travelling time, transit pass and medical fees, she is effectively paid $15.9/hr. This family however will need her for only 6 months until the summer months when mom is on holidays because she is a teacher.

Linda’s choice isn’t simply based on which family will pay more. What Linda chooses will depend on so many personal factors: Does she need the extra money or the free time? Does she need a longer commitment? Does she prefer one child or is she comfortable with more than one? Is she someone who is happy to play with the child on her own or does she prefer to head outside all day to do activities? Which family did she like better? People are willing to accept a lower pay if they really enjoy the job.

It’s a personal choice for sure. And to add to the mix, there are often considerations such as Family A can hire her immediately, while Family B needs her to start in a month. Interestingly, many helpers don’t see that even in this case, the second scenario stands to leave them with an additional $5K averaged over 6 months.

Families face similar dilemmas – and parents need to consider the pros and cons about what matters to them the most and what works within their overall budget. Sometimes, to keep an awesome nanny, families go out and find another child through a nanny share, to help bump up her pay rate to what the nanny had expected. Sometimes, families reduce or increase the number of hours needed.

The important thing is to arrive at a total compensation where neither helper nor family feel like they went beyond what is fair. I hope this helped. Let me know if there are any questions!

Alexandra T. Greenhill, MD, Mother of three, CEO myBestHelper

Happy Universal Children’s Day – make it a day of action!

Google Doodle to celebrate Universal Children's Day

Google Doodle to celebrate Universal Children’s Day

Today is Universal Children’s Day, a day created to celebrate children’s rights and to initiate action to promote children’s health, safety and happiness.

Here are a couple of ideas for celebrating Children’s Day with your family.

Explore Different Cultures

Take the time today to explore what day-to-day life is like for children all over the world. What is it like to grow up in France? In Japan? In Uganda? You can turn this into a game by spinning a globe (don’t have a globe? Use google earth) —> drop your finger on a country and talk about what it’s like to grow up there and how it’s different from Canada. If you don’t know much about living in that particular country, no worries! Talk about the climate, the language or any other things you know and ask the kids to make guesses about how that could make life different.

A great resource to share with your kids is the Families of the World collection. On their youtube channel, you can watch two-minute snippets that give you a sense of what life is like for a child in countries all over the world.

Help a Child Close to Home

Another great way to celebrate Children’s Day with your family is to help children right in your community through different charity organizations. If you’re in BC, some great organizations to look into are 1. Kids’ Help Phone, a place where children can reach out by phone when they’re in need, 2. Kids Up Front, an organization that helps kids get access to arts, culture and sport, and 3. Vancouver Sun’s Adopt a School, an initiative to help feed BC kids who go to school hungry. Check out their website, donate/share as a family and talk about the impact your small action could have on a child’s life.

I wish you a great Universal Children’s Day.

Stephanie Phillips, Community Manager, myBestHelper

Which Leads to More Success – Punishing, Rewarding or Encouraging Kids?

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It was interesting to read the recent post by Dr. Deepak Chopra on this topic and specifically his starting point:

“There is another duality besides reward-punishment that plays a huge part in the career arc of every successful person: encouragement-discouragement.”

Indeed, it took decades for the education and parenting communities to reject punishment as a method, and increasingly the case for abandoning rewards too has become more obvious.

Why do rewards backfire? They are externally driven things that you either succeed in obtaining (winner) or you don’t (loser). When it becomes about winning/ losing, it results in lack of lasting internal satisfaction and a “more for me equals less for you” mentality.

So neither the stick nor the carrot can create the kind of strong, successful and cooperation focused mindsets that are needed to solve the challenges we face nowadays. What is needed instead is encouragement – the ability to find one’s own internally driven courage when faced with adversities. Developing a stronger sense of self reduces anxiety and fear of failure. It also increases the potential for cooperation with others to achieve the objectives.

So what does encouragement look like? Five simple, yet very effective strategies can get you started:

  1. Set a process for increased responsibility with clear consequences. You can give children from a young age increasing responsibility for their own behavior and outline clear alternatives for consequences of being responsible vs not. For example, delaying evening get to bed routine, might mean no time for story time. With older kids, not doing their homework may result in having to cancel a weekend play date. Kids are amazingly great at stepping up and growing into graduated levels of responsibility. They enjoy it tremendously too!
  2. Do not automatically step in to help or do it for them. There is a message stronger than any statements that kids get, if when they struggle with a situation or a task, an adult is on standby to rescue if needed, but does not interfere unless really really needed. It’s one of the hardest things for a parent to do, as it’s often easier, faster and better to just do it for them. But nothing replaces the character building experience of mastering a challenge on their own.
  3. Affirm their ability – “Yes, you can”. Sometimes kids will feel like giving up, but knowing that someone thinks it’s possible, gives the boost needed to succeed.
  4. Discuss (and even role-play) the right behaviors. In a previous post, we covered all the ways of helping kids understand what behaviors are expected and what are considered not acceptable. Just remember to review these often as kids tend to have a funny relationship with time – for them what happened 3 to 6 months ago seems like an eternity away.
  5. Do not lie to your kids. Successful entrepreneur Vivek Ranadive coached his daughter Anjali’s basketball team to get to the Nationals and their story was included in Malcolm Gladwell‘s latest book. Here is the advice he gives in the Forbes magazine site:

    “Telling kids they’re doing a good job when they’re not does them a huge disservice when they grow up to be adults, competing in the business world.  If we are honest with them from the beginning, they will learn the value of working harder to achieve what they want.  This will make them tougher and more confident in the long run.”

  6. Catch them being ‘good’. When your child is behaving in the right way, notice it and acknowledge it. This prevents many situations where less acceptable actions would put you into a situation of having to go negative on them.

I hope these strategies help. If you have any other suggestions or things that work for your family, please comment!

Alexandra T. Greenhill, MD, Mother of three, CEO myBestHelper

The 5 most important things kids MUST know about Remembrance Day

Thank you for serving

With all the activities in the school, media and society, it’s often surprising talking to young people about what they think of Remembrance day. Too many equate it with red poppies, the great World Wars and honoring dead soldiers. But it may not be entirely their fault. Perhaps we have not been as crystal clear as we should have been about what is the real meaning of this official holiday.

So here are in kid-speak, the 5 most important things kids MUST know about Remembrance Day:

1. Remembrance Day is often emotionally difficult on kids: Adults often forget and kids often don’t admit that it’s hard for kids to think of war. Children’s age, maturity and individual personality and temperament will influence their reactions, but it often makes them sad, angry, scared or all three at the same time. They often want to understand and find the stories confusing and complicated – who is bad and who is good, and why did the conflict have to happen in the first place. This is a good opportunity to discuss the dangers of generalizing and stereotyping, but also the impact even small gestures can have on what happens. Don’t get carried away with too much information, as kids can also be easily overwhelmed as they do not yet have the ability to keep things in perspective and may be unable to block out troubling thoughts. Let them know that you understand and that it’s OK to have strong emotions. Keep it simple and consider the other four most important points that follow.

2. It’s called “Remembrance Day”, because in times of prolonged peace it’s all too easy to forget how scary war is. There are too many examples of this in history, and as they say “those who don’t know history are bound to repeat it”. Many many families were touched by war but as our veterans get older and fewer, the memories of the wars become faded and arms length for most of us, young and old. It really is not the same to listen to a presentation on WWII or watch a movie – compared to hearing a real person give a first hand account of their own experience.

3. Remembrance Day is about people – in uniform as well as all who supported them – who served in times of war and peace. Canadians, over 1.5 million of them, have served our country in times of war, military conflict and peace. More than 120,000 men and women died so that we may live in peace and freedom today. They had friends and loved ones who were also affected by their service experience. And they need to be acknowledged too.

4. When we say “remember”, we mean “honor and thank”. It’s not just about recalling the events and the hardships. Remembrance day is about honoring and thanking those who chose to sacrifice their own personal comfort zone and do the right thing, often at a great personal cost including their life. And it’s not hard to do – “Thank you for serving” is as simple as it can be. You can show your thanks in many other ways – see Facebook app and 50 ideas on how to remember – from Veteran’s Affairs. 

5. Remembrance Day is about the past AND the future: It’s remembrance for the men and women who have served, AND continue to serve our country during times of war, conflict and peace. It’s about the end of wars and the endurance of peace. It’s about something that matters everyday, not just once a year.

Alexandra T. Greenhill, MD, mom of three, CEO of myBestHelper – and grateful to all women and men who protect our peace and to their families.

What did you learn from your first job?

Parents, are your kids getting close to the time of their first job? Now is a great time to read the article (below) with them, and share your own stories of your first jobs and what you learned.

Helpers, is working as a babysitter or nanny your first job? If you put your heart and your energy into it, you are sure to learn some valuable lessons to bring with you into your next adventure.

This week Linkedin asked successful people to think back to their first job, to share the lessons they learned and the (sometimes unpleasant) experiences they had:

The Secret to Starting Your Career: Sometimes It Pays to Get Dirty

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There are some great stories! It got me thinking about some of my first (short-lived) jobs…

I worked about 7 jobs before, during and right after post-secondary. None of them were “dirty” in the conventional sense, but to me they were tedious and frustrating – never the right fit for me. I was becoming very discouraged because I hadn’t discovered anything I liked. It was then that my dad said something that has stuck with me:

“Learning what you don’t like to do is just as valuable as learning what you do like to do. So take the time to figure out what don’t like about this job, remember it, and when you’re ready try something else.”

Now, when I do work I don’t like, I put everything into it, figure out what I can learn from it, and don’t do it again!

What great lesson did you learn from your first job? Share them here, we’d love to hear them!

Stephanie Phillips, User Experience Lead, myBestHelper.com, best place to find a helper

The 3 most important coping skills for parents

"Tenderness" by Paul Lancz, Montreal

“Tenderness” by Paul Lancz, Montreal

When we become parents, we become over-anxious. Watching the questions parents were asking at the (very successful) Bellies to Babies Celebration and trade show today in Vancouver, there are so many unknowns one has to prepare for and so much knowledge to absorb! Yes, there is the excellent “What to expect when you are expecting” series, but it’s really not enough compared to the complexity of the task.

So over the last decade, I have come to realize that there are 3 core coping skills parents can adopt to make life better:

  1. Ask for advice. While there is much variability between our situations, personalities and needs, there are some “life hacks” – tips on how to cope with different situations that others have come up usually through trial and error. And today it’s even more accessible, with the wealth of information available on parenting forums, magazines like Parenting and Parents, but also websites like Quora, a place to ask questions and get people’s answers. Any way you want to do it – just do it. There are also innovative resources like “7 cups of tea“, a new site where you can connect anonymously with a listener, a person who loves to help others and want to do something meaningful in their free time.  Ask how others handle the issue you are curious about or struggling with. We asked everyone we knew on advice on what to buy, how to travel with a baby, how to best introduce a baby to an older sibling – and it saved us so much time, money and effort!
  2. Aim for “good enough” parenting – not perfect. I already explained in another post the importance of not aiming for excellence in parenting and all the evidence that the “good enough” mother leads to happier and more successful kids.
  3. Learn to say “Yes!” when offered help. Too many parents act on a mistaken belief that only they can provide the kind of care and experiences that their child needs, and thus end up exhausted or sacrifice their own activities and happiness. My default answer to offers of help is “Yes, please!” – and through that my children have been enriched with experiences with other adults / families that I would not have come up with, while I was given the gift of time to be able to focus on my own needs and priorities. Too many parents as well are firmly in belief that reciprocity must occur, but sometimes, there are situations where you might need more help, but can’t immediately return the favor. As a doctor, I have seen many a family struggle with one child’s illness, yet refuse all help with the other healthy siblings. Why? Because they felt a need to immediately repay the kind gesture. Most of us would agree that especially in hard circumstances it’s not required nor is it expected, yet the self-imposed pressure is hard to break through.

Parenting is stressful enough – let’s make it easier 😉

Alexandra T. Greenhill, MD, mother of three CEO and Co-founder myBestHelper