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Tips for Working During Pregnancy

pregnantworkPregnancy is an exciting time, but it can also be a confusing one, especially as you try to strike a balance between your job and all of the physical, mental and emotional changes you’re going through. Achieving that balance can be difficult, but with these tips you can navigate your way through pregnancy and work with relative ease.

  • Keep safe snacks at your desk
    Arguably one of the most difficult parts of pregnancy is the first trimester. Many women aren’t yet ready to spill the news about their pregnancy to their employers or coworkers, but morning sickness (that often is more aptly “all day sickness”) can tip off coworkers long before you actually break the news. To keep morning sickness at bay, keep bland snacks at your desk that you can snack on throughout the day. You can usually quell nausea with crackers and pretzels, and many women find that continual snacking helps relieve nausea.
  • Tell your employer
    Before you break the news to your coworkers make sure to tell your employer, especially if you work in a small company. The last thing you want is for your employer to find out that you’re pregnant through the work gossip grapevine instead of directly from you. Your employer is also likely to be a little more understanding about frequent trips to the bathroom and a slight decrease in productivity if you’re up front and honest about your pregnancy and how your body is responding to it.
  • Be flexible
    In today’s fast-paced society, many women feel the need to keep up the same frenetic pace that they maintained pre-pregnancy. Sometimes, however, you need to just slow down a little bit. Don’t be afraid to take a personal day if you’re really struggling one morning and you’re going to spend more time running back and forth to the bathroom than actually working. Try to juggle around your meetings if you know there’s a certain time of the day that’s particularly rough for you. Be flexible as your body adapts to pregnancy.
  • Learn when you need to say no
    As much as you may want to, you’re not going to be able to do everything. You’re going to find you have less and less time outside of work to take on extra tasks as you prepare for the arrival of your baby. Learn when you need to say no instead of trying to take on extra projects even though you truly don’t have the time to fully dedicate yourself to them. This is not the time to be continually stressed over projects that you didn’t actually need to agree to do.
  • Listen to your body
    Your body is going through a myriad of changes throughout your entire pregnancy. Listen to your body during this time! If you find yourself getting sleepy during the work day, take a short break and walk around. If you’re getting dizzy because you haven’t eaten enough, get a small snack. Hydrate throughout the day. Take mini mental breaks. Cut yourself some slack from time to time.
  • Find ways to stay comfortable throughout the day
    As your body changes you’re going to find that you’re less and less comfortable throughout the day, especially if your job requires you to sit or stand a lot. Find ways to make yourself more comfortable. Ditch the four-inch heels in favor of flats, buy maternity clothes that fit instead of trying to squeeze into your pre-pregnancy pants, invest in a seat cushion – anything that can help increase your comfort levels while helping you continue to maintain your work professionalism will be well worth the investment.
  • Plan your doctor’s appointments wisely
    Doctor’s appointments are an inevitable part of pregnancy. From regular appointments with your OB to different blood tests, you’re going to find yourself in quite a few waiting rooms during the next nine months. Try to plan your appointments so that they fit into your work day, not detract from them. If possible, locate a doctor close to your workplace. Schedule appointments for early in the morning, after you leave work for the day or over your lunch break, and avoid scheduling them on days that you know are stacked with meetings or conference calls.
  • Review your company’s maternity leave policy and plan accordingly
    Every company is different when it comes to maternity leave. Depending on your company’s policy, you could be looking at fully paid leave, unpaid leave, or something in between. You could have six weeks, or you could have 12. Since there is no hard rule regarding maternity leave, it’s important to find out well in advance what your company’s policy is so that you are able to plan accordingly.
  • Figure out what your work plan is post-pregnancy
    Are you planning on going back to work full-time after you have your baby, or are you going to stay at home? Will your employer let you work part-time, or even remotely? There is no right or wrong answer for how you handle employment post-pregnancy, only what’s right for you and your family. Once you do figure out what your post-pregnancy employment plans are, discuss them with your employer. Be up front about what you want to do, that way they have time to find a suitable replacement if you aren’t’t planning on coming back, or you can iron out the logistics of working from home, working part-time or easing back into full-time work.
  • Come up with a game plan for when you go on maternity leave
    Before you leave the office to go on maternity leave you need to make sure that you have everything in order so that whoever is filling in for you knows exactly what to do. Tie up as many loose ends as possible, delegate work as needed and create detailed lists so that anyone is able to easily pick up where you’ve left off. This will not only make it easier for anyone filling in for you, it will also make it easier once you re-enter the workplace.
  • Start thinking about childcare
    For many expecting moms, the thought of securing childcare is very stressful. Fortunately, it doesn’t have to be. Start doing your research early, including evaluating your options and your budget, and you’ll be well on your way to making the right childcare choice for your family. If you’re considering a nanny, give yourself at least four weeks to conduct your nanny search.

It may seem overwhelming at first, but with a little planning you can find a healthy balance between taking care of work and taking care of you.

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Keeping the Family Healthy During the Holidays: Tips for Enjoying Meals Without Going Overboard

famholidaysThe temptations and treats of the holidays can have a significant impact on the entire family’s waistline. From cookies and candies to large meals and sugar-filled punch, holiday celebrations often focus on food and encourage overeating.

According to Rania Batayneh, nutritionist and founder of Essential Nutrition For You, a nutrition consulting firm, the average person gains five to seven pounds over the holidays.

Don’t let the joy of the season leave you feeling bloated and lacking energy while your children battle upset stomachs. Instead, practice mindful eating and utilize these tips to keep you eating healthy during the joyous season.

Eat Breakfast

Most people set themselves up for overeating by starving all day, says Batayneh. “We all know that this is not an effective strategy for many reasons and with all of the fattening and starchy carbs on the dinner table, you will likely feel the need to fill up on them because your body has been deprived all day.”

Instead of waiting for the main course, fill up on veggies and fruits in the early morning hours so your appetite will not be in rare form when the holiday platters are set in front of you.

Get Your Workout In

When the holidays arrive, try not to slack on your daily workouts. Encourage the entire family to take a walk or run early in the morning to decrease your appetite and provide you with the energy to get through the day of celebrations. Think about taking a post-dinner walk, too, suggests Batayneh. “This can even happen after the meal and before dessert,” she says.

Many gyms offer morning workouts or boot camps on holiday mornings to help you burn calories before the big meal.

Decrease Alcohol Intake

Between the stuffing, bread rolls and mashed potatoes, this meal is a carbohydrate-lovers dream, but not your waistlines, says Batayneh. Don’t overdo it by adding too much carb-filled alcohol to the mix. “Limit the portions of the above foods to make room for your glass of wine and to keep your blood sugar more stable,” she says.

Try opting for lower calorie non-alcoholic drinks or mixing sparkling water with wine for a wine spritzer to keep your figure in shape.

Limit Portions

Why is it that most holiday celebrations include large plates? Opt for a smaller plate to limit your portions. Portion size is key when diving into a holiday meal. You can still sample the best of the lean meats, veggies, potatoes and desserts, but you are less likely to over-indulge when you have smaller portions of each. Pay attention to your body, too, warns Batayneh. “If you feel full, put your fork down and enjoy the conversations,” she says. “The good news is that you can always take leftovers home and enjoy them the next day.”

Hydrate and Rest

To curb your appetite, stock up on water before the big meal. According to Dr. Elizabeth Lombardo, a clinical psychologist, physical therapist and author of A Happy You: Your Ultimate Prescription for Happiness, dehydration is often misinterpreted as hunger, and people end up eating more as a result.

Beyond dehydration, there are other factors that can encourage weight gain during the holidays. “Sleep deprivation and stress are two key variables often present during the holidays that put on weight,” says Lombardo. Encourage the entire family to go to bed early the night before a big celebration and minimize the stressors that cause anxiety during the holidays.

Eat More

Although it may seem contradictory to eat more when you’re trying to stay healthy, consuming smaller, regular meals can help you to eat less. Lombardo suggests eating healthy meals and snacks leading up to the big meal so you are not feeling starved when inhibitions are not as strong.

When you are regularly fueling your body with healthy greens and fresh fruits, the temptation to eat just one more cookie or slice of pie is drastically reduced. When divulging on sweets, Lombardo recommends mindful eating. “Eat it slowly and mindful, enjoying every morsel without feeling guilty,” she says. “This will help you not feel deprived and actually enjoy it more.”

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What to Know When Relocating to Houston

houstonHouston, the country’s fourth-largest city, is home to 2.2 million residents, many of whom are transplants. Drawn to what Travel & Leisure readers have deemed one of America’s Favorite Cities, both new and well-established Houstonites enjoy a vibrant cultural scene and mild temperatures year-round that allow great outdoor opportunities for recreation and exploration of the many parks and scenic natural areas. If you’re relocating to Houston, be sure to take advantage of the following city scenes.


From authentic taco trucks to the eateries of the 2013 James Beard Award-winning “Chefs of the Southwest”, Hugo Ortega’s Hugo’s  and  Chris Shepherd’s Underbelly, this big-city-with-a-small-town feel is a foodie’s dream. Recently touted as having the most dynamic and diverse food and drink scene in the nation, the culinary greats have descended to Houston, taking their cuisine inspiration from the eclectic population. One local favorite that draws on the city’s southern roots is barbecue – there’s even a BBQ festival held in March.

Fortunately for those who like to explore local restaurants, Houston has also been named one of the top affordable places to visit in the country – meaning more bang for your buck to try out neighborhood favorites and an easy transition that won’t break the bank while you wait for the moving truck ‘kitchen’ boxes to arrive.


This vibrant city is also a wonderland of variety. With residents speaking nearly 100 different languages, festivals celebrating the city’s diversity abound. Houston Festa Italiana, Hindu holiday Holi, WorldFest, Houston’s annual international film festival and the international Dance Salad Festival are just a few of the more popular events the city hosts.

Boasting “19 cultural powerhouses,” the Museum District’s offerings wow newcomers with a wealth of options within a few blocks stroll of each other. Four times a year, the district offers a block party helping newcomers experience the offerings. Of the 19 different museums, 11 are free every day and the other eight offer free times once a week or once a month.

Visitors’ top pick, earning a recent 2013 Excellence Award and top spot of 153 local Houston attractions from Tripadvisor, is the Museum of Fine Arts. Baroque and Renaissance art, tribal art, a sculpture garden and a teaching wing where the local talent can be enjoyed are just a few of the highlights.

For the Kids

Houston isn’t just a place for adults, though; there’s plenty of fun for the kids as well. One visit to the Children’s Museum of Houston will have them feeling like stars as they learn about urban living through interactive and hands-on exhibits like Power Play and Kidtropolis, which comes with a loaded ATM card filled with Kidtropolis dollars to go on a shopping spree, allows kids to take special art workshops or run city errands and deposit paychecks into a kids savings or checking account. 

The Houston Zoo and the Houston Museum of Natural Science’s excellent paleontology exhibits, space-station model and six-story butterfly exhibit are also big hits with the little ones.

The city also created a wealth of outdoor spaces for picnics and playgrounds the whole family can enjoy. Hermann Park, which features outdoor pedalboats, is just a MetroRail away from the zoo, The Buddy Carruth Playground caters to kids of all ages and has waterspray details for hot days, the Miller Outdoor Theatre boasts free performances, and a catch-and-release fishing area and a miniature train ride for kids at McGovern Lake make for a fun afternoon on the water.

The Neighborhoods

Picking just the right part of Houston to settle in obviously is dependent on your personal priorities – fun nightlife, great schools, open spaces, easy downtown access – but one big determination to keep in mind is your daily commute, which can vary greatly with Houston traffic concerns.

Each neighborhood has its own flavor that the official visitors site for Houston can help you decipher, offering a description and handful of recommendations for each of the city’s 18 main areas: Chinatown, Clear Lake/Bay Area Houston, Downtown, EaDo/East End, Galleria/Uptown, Galveston, Greenspoint/IAH, Houston Heights, Medical Center/Reliant Park, Memorial Park/Washington Corridor, Memorial/Energy Corridor, Midtown, Montrose, Museum District, River Oaks, Hobby Airport/Third-Ward, Upper Kirby/Greenway Plaza and West University/Rice Village.

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100 of the Best Resources for Houston Parents

houstonhalfNew to the Houston area or looking for some new and fresh local parenting ideas? We’ve put together a list of the 100 best resources for Houston-area families. From CPR training to the best places to have your child’s birthday party, we’ve got you covered.

CPR/First Aid Training

Learning CPR and first aid basics can mean the difference between life and death, and every parent should be familiar with what to do in case of an emergency. There are many different venues in Houston that offer CPR and first aid training, making it easily accessible for most any parent to attend a class.

  • Across Texas CPR—This American Heart Association CPR training has multiple locations in the Houston area, including Katy, Sugar Land, Galveston, The Woodlands, Spring, Conroe, Tomball and several others.
  • Houston CPR and Safety—Classes are held daily for CPR certification, so you can stop by at a time that’s convenient for your schedule. The facility is located at 9800 Centre Parkway #660, Houston, TX 77036.
  • Bradford Emergency Care Training and Certifications—Updated hands-only CPR and new changes to first aid are covered in this class, which is held at 11207 Elmsgrove Lane, Houston, TX 77070.
  • American Red Cross—A well-respected name in safety training and humanitarian efforts, this organization has been doing CPR training since the mid 1950’s. Find an American Red Cross center near you by clicking on this site.
  • CPR Training Solutions—This class is taught by a full-time police officer who specializes in training other officers.
  • PerSys Medical Training Center—This training center is located at 5310 Elm Street, Houston, TX 77081, and the instructors, such as paramedic Cynthia Alvarez, are specialists in their field.
  • Citywide CPR—This training center handles much more than just CPR training, such as EMRT (Emergency Medical Response Training). The instructors train other medical specialists and the center is located at 7625 Katy Freeway, Houston, TX 77024.
  • Cypress Creek EMS—For those who simply wish to learn CPR to help friends and family, try this facility for a free CPR course without the certification. Their address is 7111 Five Forks in Spring, TX 77379.
  • Houston Methodist Hospital—For only $10 you can attend a group CPR class at this hospital and receive your certification at the end of the class. The training center address is 8335 Lantern Dr., Houston, TX 77054.
  • Houston CPR—FITCORE was founded in 1989 and handles the training for CPR for infants, children and adults at 5773 Woodway #184, Houston, TX 77057.


Finding quality childcare is essential, but it can be a difficult task when you’re not sure where to turn. While we’re biased towards nanny care, we know that in-home childcare isn’t the right choice for every family. Check out these resources to choose the best childcare for your family.

  • International Nanny Association—Check out this site if you are looking for a nanny to care for your children.
  • Morningside Nannies—When looking for reliable childcare from a reputable agency, consider hiring a nanny from Morningside Nannies.
  • NAEYC—The National Association for the Education of Young Children provides the resources you need to see if a selected daycare has received certification by the NAEYC, making it helpful during your search.
  • Kids R Kids—This daycare has several different locations around Houston, and they are accredited by AdvancED.
  • Primrose Schools—There are 34 different locations for this daycare/school in the Houston area.
  • DFPS—The Department of Family and Protective Services provides this site so that you can check on the record of a daycare that you are considering.
  • Adventure Kids Playcare—This is a drop-in childcare facility and is located at 22762 Westheimer Parkway in Katy, TX. They are open from 8:00 am to 10:00 pm Monday through Thursday and until midnight on Friday and Saturday.
  • Time for Tots—Located at 9774 Katy Freeway Suite 200 East in Houston, TX 77055, this facility is a daycare and drop-in facility that doesn’t require a contract.
  • Brazos Montessori—Looking for a Montessori school in the Houston area? This one is located at 2309 Williams Trace Blvd., Sugar Land, TX 77478 and follows the original Montessori methods.
  • La Petite—Tour the facility at 225 Benmar Drive, Houston, TX 77060 to learn why this academy is different than other daycare centers.

Shop for Children’s Clothes and Toys

Looking for a bargain on designer duds for your kids? These retailers specialize in meeting the clothing and playtime needs of Houston area families.

  • Mint Baby & Kids—Located in Uptown Park, this unique store will allow you to custom order a crib and bedding for your nursery and has a large selection of christening outfits on hand. 1121 Uptown Park Blvd., Houston, TX 77056
  • Rattle Tattle—Find special occasion and dance apparel at this Houston boutique located at 8492 Highway 6 N., Houston, TX 77095.
  • Little Lords n’ Ladies—This beauty salon and boutique has been open since 1984 and carries fine clothes and accessories for your little prince or princess. It’s located at 6100 Westheimer Road Suite 138 A, Houston, TX 77057.
  • Hanging on a Thread-Stylish Kids Resale—A secondhand store specializing in upscale clothing, this store can be found at 249 W. 19th St. Suite C, Houston, TX 77008.
  • Andree’s Corner—Check out this resale shop on 2508 Sunset Blvd., Houston, TX 77005 for your children’s clothing and toy needs.
  • Crayons Children’s Resale Shop—Browse over 5000 square feet of space full of infant and children’s clothes, toys and more at their new location on 13320 Westheimer Road & Eldridge Parkway in Houston.
  • Tulips and Tutus—Located at 833 Studewood St., Houston, TX 77007, this children’s boutique doesn’t have a full website, but you can check out their Facebook page.
  • Haute Mommies & Bella Babies—Find high quality maternity wear as well as fashionable children’s clothing here. 477 Bay Area Blvd., Houston, TX 77058.
  • Christina Marie’s Boutique—Fashionable finds for your tutu loving girls or stylish little boys can be found at this upscale boutique located at 11510 Space Center Blvd., Houston, TX 77059.
  • Pout in Pink—Dancewear, leg warmers, wings, dresses and everything girlie can be found at 25250 Northwest Freeway Suite 180, Cypress, TX 77429.

Mommy and Me Classes

Looking for an activity that you can do with your child? Mommy and me classes are available to suit most every mom. From those who crave more exercise to those who want to explore the great outdoors together, you’ll find something to fit your interests here.

  • The Lil Gym—Build skills and muscle control for your little one by doing a class at this gym, which has several locations in Houston.
  • Swim Success—Take a swimming class with your child, from four months to four years, in this parent and tot class found at 4521 Joyce Blvd., Houston, TX 77084.
  • Aqua Tots—Check out the baby swimming lessons held at 1542 West Grand Parkway South, Katy, TX 77494 or 6122 Hwy. 6, Missouri City, TX 77459.
  • Define Body & Mind—Take a ‘Bundle of Joy’ yoga class at Define to learn how to work out with your baby and to learn more about your developing infant.
  • Prelude Music Classes—Find the joy of music with your child up to eight months old for the babies class or up to five years old in the family class. 3701 W. Alabama Suite 210, Houston, TX 77027.
  • Armand Bayou Nature Center—Introduce your two- to four-year-old to animals, plants and other natural things by taking this unusual mommy and me class.
  • Learn 4 Good—Immerse your six- to 12-month old or 18-month to three-year-old in Spanish activities to give her a language advantage in the future, available at Crossing Borders in Katy. 24044 Cinco Village Center Blvd. Suite 100, Katy, TX 77494.
  • Mean Green—Trying to get rid of that baby weight? This fitness class for you and your baby could be just the thing. Available in several areas in Houston.
  • Kindermusic—Babies love music, so why not try a music class with your baby? These classes are available at several locations in Houston.
  • Texas Swim Academy—Protect your child from accidental drowning by teaching her to swim at an early age. The academy is located at 3514 Greenbusch, Katy, TX 77494.

Healthcare Options

Houston is full of qualified practitioners who can meet your family’s healthcare needs. From emergency care to eye care, you can find a provider who can be part of your family’s wellness team.

  • Memorial Hermann—Part of UT Health, this site will help you find a doctor based on the zip code you put in, your insurance and the service you require.
  • Health Doctors—Search for doctors within a certain radius of your home or office and determine the kind of doctor you need, whether it’s a family doctor or a specialist.
  • Houston Methodist—A well-respected hospital, Houston Methodist has in-house specialties for cancer, diabetes, heart, neurology, sports medicine and transplants.
  • Texas Children’s Pediatrics—Find an extensive list of pediatricians and their office addresses to help you start your search for a pediatrician.
  • Healthgrades—This site houses a list of 998 pediatricians near Houston, and enables you to find a few that you might want to interview based on location, years of practice and insurance carriers accepted.
  • Dentists of Houston—Find a dentist that specializes in what you need based on your area of town.
  • Houston Pediatric Dental Specialists—If you are looking for a dentist for your kids, you may want to take a look at this office located in three locations in the Houston area.
  • Eye Doctor Guide—Find an eye doctor near you by searching the database on this site.
  • All About Vision—Optometrists, Ophthalmologists, and other eye centers are all listed on this directory.
  • Chiropractors Near You Now—By putting in your zip code, this site will give you details related to several chiropractors in your immediate area.

Museums and Other Outings

From educational museums to waterslide parks, Houston is home to a variety of family adventures. Whether you’re looking to do something for the day or for a few hours, one of these kid-friendly parent approved outings will hit the mark.

  • Children’s Museum of Houston—Check out this site throughout the year to discover what events the staff have going on each season.
  • The Houston Museum of Natural Science—This museum combines several different attractions in one by having a planetarium, wild life area, Giant screen and much more. You can travel back in time to watch a virtual tour of some of the earliest cave paintings known to man and then travel to the stars.
  • Discovery Green—Many different events go on at this park year-round, from ‘Screen on the Green’ to outdoor yoga classes and more.
  • NASA Space Center—Check out everything from rockets to where mission control sat during some of history’s most exciting moments. Kids will love the four-story play structure.
  • Kemah Boardwalk—Bring the family to this carnival-like atmosphere that hosts a beautiful boardwalk overlooking the water.
  • Downtown Aquarium—Let the kids pet the sting rays and visit the other under water creatures that call Houston their home along with a rare white tiger that resides above the water.
  • Splashtown—Cool off at this water slide park complete with a seven-story drop ride called the ‘Brain Drain’ and the only six-lane Octopus racer in Texas.
  • Houston Zoo—Come feed the giraffes and hold a bird for the hands-on portion of your zoo visit and then view many other fascinating animals.
  • Sam Houston Race Park—Here you’ll find horse racing at its finest, along with many other events like poker tournaments every Friday night.
  • San Jacinto Museum and Monument—Take in the view when you travel up to the observation deck 567 feet above the ground in the monument.

Kid-Friendly Eats

Looking to feed the family and have someone else clean up the mess? Head out to one of these kid-friendly Houston eateries that encourage families to dine together.

  • Barnaby’s Café—This kid-friendly restaurant is unique to Houston and has a placemat to color and mac and cheese and corn dogs on the menu.
  • Hickory Hollow—When you want some cowboy comfort food like chicken fried steak or barbeque you need to come to Hickory Hollow. Meals are served at family style tables and the staff is ready to serve. Smaller portions of normal menu options are available for kids and include a special treat.
  • Mission Burritos—The tag line for this restaurant is fresh fast food. Mom and Dad can eat great Tex-Mex food while the kids play at the outdoor playground (only W. Alabama location).
  • Niko Niko’s—Found at Historic Market Square Park, you can let the kids enjoy the playground while you enjoy some tasty food on the patio. All of the food is Greek-based and you can order breakfast, lunch or dinner.
  • Pappa’s Bar-B-Q—With 16 restaurants in the Houston area you should be able to find one close to you. Ages 12 and under can eat off the kids menu, which features chicken tenderloins, sliced meat or kid standbys like mac and cheese and corn dog bites.
  • Star Pizza—Rated the top pizza in Houston, this unique restaurant strives to please its customers with a variety of toppings and freshly made pizzas every time.
  • Maggiano’s Little Italy—In the mood for Italian? Bring the whole family to Maggiano’s to sink your fork into authentic Italian food. The kids will love the giant meatball spaghetti or other kid dishes.
  • Samurai Steak—Not too expensive and kid-friendly. The chefs put on quite the show on the grill that both kids and adults will enjoy.
  • Star Cinema Grill—Take in dinner and a movie at this fun restaurant and theater combo located on NASA road.
  • Dave and Buster’s—The ultimate in kid fun and great food.  Enjoy shopping at the Galleria and end your day by letting the kids play some games after dinner.

Birthday Party Options

Not ready to have a bunch of kids over to your house for a birthday party? Host it somewhere else instead! Partying at one of these 10 venues is sure to make the birthday kid smile.

  • Mad Science—Doesn’t everyone love to watch a cool science experiment? If you have a child who loves science, have a Mad Science party. You can use their facilities near the Galleria or they will come to a venue of your choosing.
  • Times Square Entertainment—Keep the kids busy with laser tag, bowling, arcade games and more at this venue. You bring your own cake and you don’t even have to clean up afterwards!
  • Pigtails and Crewcuts—This salon specializes in cool kid haircuts, but they also host parties like a luau or a pirate party where the host gets to choose from a list of fun services.
  • Story Book Cottage—Perfect for your little princess, this story book cottage is located in downtown Katy and the party can be a spa party or dress-up tea party.
  • Bounce U—Ideal for younger children, this venue contains inflatables where the kids can run, jump and slide safely.
  • Painting with a Twist—For your future artist, this venue might be fun. Bring your own food and drinks and the party guests get to paint a picture with instruction from the teacher.
  • Dairy Ashford Roller Rink—If your child loves to roller skate or roller blade, this might be the place to have a birthday party. The parties are inexpensive and you can bring in your own cake.
  • Dewberry Farm—This is something different if your kids have a fall birthday. Pet and feed the animals, play in the playground and enjoy the great outdoors at this farm.
  • Old McDonalds Farm—Enjoy the petting zoo, train ride around the farm, pony rides and playground if you have a party here. You are welcome to bring your own food, drinks and cake and your party price includes your own reserved gazebo.
  • Laser Quest Corp—Enjoy multiple laser matches for your birthday party and cool off in the party room while you enjoy your cake.

Area Libraries

From checking out books to attending story time, hitting the library is a free way to get more edutainment into your child’s day. Check out these local libraries for books, classes and workshops.

  • Central Library—Located at 500 McKinney in Houston, TX 77002, this library is open seven days a week and has an added service of offering passport services to its patrons.
  • Clayton Library Center for Genealogical Research—Come in and research your lineage at this library and attend workshops like the cemetery symbolism class. 5300 Caroline, Houston, TX 77004
  • Hillendahl Neighborhood Library—Along with a library full of books for all ages, this library offers story time for the little ones and classes for older adults to learn about social networking. 2436 Gessner Rd., Houston, TX 77080
  • Heights Neighborhood Library—Housed in a beautiful building, this library offers classes in laughter yoga and mad science. 1302 Heights Blvd., Houston, TX 77008
  • Carnegie Neighborhood Library and Literacy Support Center—This library offers bilingual playgroups, health fairs and afternoon movie madness and is located at 1050 Quitman, Houston, TX 77009.
  • Harris County Public Library—The Maud Marks Branch library holds several workshops to learn things like napkin folding, holiday planning and computer classes. 1815 Westgreen Blvd., Katy, TX 77450
  • Julia Ideson Library—Tour this tastefully restored historic building that houses a collection of books that you can browse and read on premises. 500 McKinney, Houston, TX 77002.
  • Rosenbergy Library—Located at 2310 Sealy St., Galveston, TX 77550, this library is inside a historic building and houses the Rosenberg Library Museum as well as other library books.
  • Johnson Neighborhood Library—Found at 3517 Reed Rd., Houston, TX 77051, this library is open Monday through Saturday. You are free to come in and use a computer during library business hours.
  • Parent Resource Library—This library is unique in that it is located at the Children’s Museum and offers resources for all sorts of parenting questions. 1500 Binz, Houston, TX 77004.

Moms Groups

Looking to connect with other moms who can share your day to day joys and struggles? Mingle with moms and make connections with their pint-sized playmates in these Houston-area groups for moms.

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70 Places to Take the Kids in Houston

zooAccording to the 2010 census, Houston is the sixth largest city in the country and sprawls over a massive 8,778 square miles. To give a visual estimate, the city is roughly the same size as Massachusetts. The city of Houston was named after Sam Houston, who was both the first and third president of the republic of Texas and was instrumental in bringing Texas into the United States. Houston hosts a number of different amusement parks, museums and sporting venues, so you’re sure to never run out of things to do or see during your time spent there. It’s also a food lover’s dream, and boasts over 11,000 restaurants that appeal to any and every culinary palate. These 70 blogs are packed with different kid-friendly destinations in Houston, ensuring you’ll never be bored on a trip to the city.

Amusement Parks                                                               

No matter what the season, there is always something exciting going on at Houston’s many amusement parks. The balmy climate allows for almost year round enjoyment of both indoor and outdoor venues, and you’ll find attractions that appeal to everyone in the family. For more information on some of Houston’s favorite amusement parks and entertainment locations, check out these 10 blog entries.

  • Kemah Boardwalk – This quaint park has an assortment of amusement park rides and restaurants, making it a fun day trip for the family.
  • Top Golf Houston – The entire family can enjoy a rousing take on golf at Top Golf, which puts a fun twist on the classic driving range.
  • Pleasure Pier on Galveston Island – One of the best seaside amusement parks in the world, Pleasure Pier is a fairly new addition to Galveston Island and includes a roller coaster that has made it onto the list of best roller coasters.
  • Scream World – If you like to be scared, Scream World is the place to go. This hauntingly creepy attraction will definitely give you a fright.
  • Houston County Fair – While not your typical amusement park, this yearly event is highly anticipated for the rodeo, rides and other attractions.
  • Splashtown – Cool down on the water slides and in the wave pool at this huge water park located just 30 minutes from downtown Houston.
  • Houston Aquarium – This amazing restaurant offers fun attractions, like amusement park rides, sting rays you can feed and even white tigers.
  • Schlitterbaun – This indoor water park was ranked the best indoor waterpark for the last six years by Golden Ticket.
  • Monkey Business – For bounce house fun that’s perfect for younger children try out this venue.
  • Grand Texas Theme Park – Construction for this Texas-sized theme park is under way and scheduled to be completed by spring 2015, so make sure you keep an eye on this for future travel plans.

The Arts

Houston is known for its large theater district, and has eight performing arts groups in a 17-block area that is second only to New York City. The city also has its own resident company in the symphony, theater, opera and ballet. With such a large selection of performance arts you’re sure to find some type of performance happening on any given night of the week. Houston also boasts art museums and galleries that have received critical acclaim, so if you and your family love the arts Houston is definitely the place to visit.

  • Museum of Fine Arts – Come and visit the museum to look at paintings, sculptures, masks, antique furniture and more.
  • Orange Show Center for Visionary Art – The Orange Show Center is one of the largest venues for folk art pieces, such as the beer can house and others.
  • Contemporary Art Museum – Every third Saturday of the month is family day at the art museum, and the museum caters to the younger set during these Saturdays by providing a plethora of hands-on activities.
  • Thornwood Gallery – If your family enjoys art, the Thornwood Gallery, which sells artwork from both local and international artists, is the place to visit.
  • Blaffer Art Museum at the University of Houston – This free art museum is open to the public and often offers hands-on art opportunities throughout the year.
  • Katy Contemporary Art Museum – Ana Villaronga-Roman, photographer and now museum director, opened this contemporary art museum in September 2013.
  • The Menil Collection – This neighborhood art collection has free admission and the museum is surrounded by sculptures. Future plans include expanding to six buildings in the Houston area.
  • Ceramics by Tess – Get your kids involved in painting their own ceramics at this Katy store.
  • The Arts Alliance Center at Clear Lake – This non-profit organization hosts several events throughout the year and promotes visual and other fine art in the Bay Area.
  • Potter’s Wheel Gallery and Gifts – Get your budding artist involved in pottery at this unique store in the Houston area.


Houston is known for its wide array of museums that range from small-scale exhibits to massive collections. The Museum District hosts museums for everything from planes, trains and automobiles to offshore drilling rigs and more. Read through this list of 10 museums to see if any sound interesting to you and your family.

  • The Health Museum – You’ll learn all about your body and your health at the interactive exhibits in this museum.
  • Houston Museum of Natural Science – There’s no shortage of things to see at the Museum of Natural Science, which has everything from theater shows to a planetarium.
  • Ocean Star Offshore Drilling Rig and Museum – Take the kids on a real drilling rig to show them how oil is extracted and what they do with it.
  • Holocaust Museum – This emotional trip might be more appropriate for older children that can grasp the gravity of what happened during the Holocaust.
  • Children’s Museum – Let the kids experience hands-on learning in the different exhibits at the Children’s Museum. Various special exhibits are available at different times of the year.
  • 1940 Air Terminal Museum – Are your kids in love with airplanes? If so, take them to this little known gem.
  • Art Car Museum – You can enjoy both cars and art at the Art Car museum, where artists have painted and created various types of novelty cars.
  • The Fire Museum of Houston – Do you have a future fireman in your family? Take a tour of this firehouse museum to let the kids get an up close look at actual firefighting equipment.
  • Houston Railroad Museum – If your kids love Thomas the Train they may enjoy visiting this museum.
  • Weather Center Houston – Check out the first weather museum in the U.S. and learn all about hurricanes, tornadoes and other natural weather occurrences.

Public Parks

Houston is known for its consistently hot weather, and the city has a variety of kid-friendly parks that allow you to take advantage of the warmer climate. For hotter days, check out the parks that have splash pad areas. These 10 blogs cover some of the best public parks in Houston.

  • Discovery Green – If you go to Houston, you have to check out this park. The kids can play on the giant playground during the day and cool off by the giant fountain. Various activities are held here throughout the year, so check out the site for current events before you visit.
  • Sam Houston Park – This historical area allows you and the kids to step back in time as you walk through houses that date back to the 1800’s.
  • Hermann Park Conservancy – Enjoy some fresh air at Hermann Park while indulging in train rides and pedal boats.
  • Memorial Park – Biking trails, walking trails and a city pool can all be enjoyed here.
  • Battleship Texas State Historic Site – The whole family will have a blast exploring a real battleship at the Battleship Texas State Historic Site.
  • Wonderwild – If you have young children and are looking for an indoor playground idea for a few hours, this might be the perfect venue for you.
  • Stomping Grounds Playland – Get a cup of coffee and let the kids tire themselves out a little playing in this indoor playground.
  • Planet Wow – Bring the kids to this bouncing playground that has basketball and slides that are safe for toddlers, but fun for older kids as well.
  • Judson Park – Try this outdoor playground complete with both a toddler playground and a playground for older kid as well.
  • Water Spraygrounds – You’ll find a complete list of free watery splash pad playgrounds listed on this site for the Houston area.

Educational Venues

There’s no harm in learning something while on vacation, and you can combine fun and learning at these educational venues. The Houston Zoo hosts more than 1.8 million people each year and your kids will be able to watch and visit the 6,000 animals that call the Houston Zoo home. The NASA Space Center is an exciting attraction that the kids will love every bit as much as the adults. You’ll even be able to sit in the same seats that kings and queens sat in to watch the first space launches and splash downs. These 10 blogs explore just a few of the many educational opportunities in Houston.

  • The Houston Zoo – Learn about and visit many different animals at this world renowned zoo.
  • Space Center Houston – Tour mission control and play on the four-story play land structure when you come to NASA Space Center.
  • Houston Arboretum and Nature Center – Stroll along the paths and learn about flowers and bug life at this scenic garden.
  • George Observatory – Take a look at the moon and other stars through one or all of the telescopes available at this observatory.
  • San Jacinto Monument – Learn all about the battle that was fought at San Jacinto and top off your visit by riding to the 150th floor to take in the amazing view.
  • Old Town Spring – This quaint railroad town boasts buildings built in the early 1900’s and a bank that still has the bullet holes from a stage coach robbery.
  • Houston Symphony – Educate the kids with music by letting them listen to the story that the music tells at the symphony.
  • Wortham Theater Center – Continue your kids’ cultural education by taking them to see one of the many performances at the Wortham Theater Center.
  • Miller Outdoor Theater – The Miller Outdoor Theater has a children’s program that features free productions during the day.
  • The Hobby Center for Performing Arts—Take in one of the many different performances at the Hobby Center to share the different performing art forms with your kids.

Run and Play

There are times when the kids just need to run around and get some energy out. These 10 venues are just the solution. Whether your kids like to rock climb, ride horses, ice skate or just jump around, you can find a place in Houston to do just that. If you like to shop, combine shopping with ice skating at the impressive stores in the Galleria. Want to visit somewhere peaceful for some fresh air? Check out the bird sanctuary. No matter what your tastes, you’ll find something to do in the Houston area.

  • Stone Moves Indoor Rock Climbing – Climbing walls are available for people with various levels of experience, from the beginner to the advanced climber.
  • 288 Lake Scuba and Sport Training Facility – Formerly known as Tiki Lake or The Reef, this is a place where you can take scuba or kayak lessons or just kick back and enjoy laying around on the beach.
  • Jumping World – Let the kids burn off some energy at this indoor trampoline park. Jumping world is a great option for a rainy day.
  • Cypress Trails – Do you have kids who love horses? Come visit Cypress Trails, where the kids can ride horses and enjoy communing with nature and beast.
  • Combat Houston – If you have a paintball enthusiast in your midst, this is Houston’s number one paint ball field. There is a minimum age limit of 10 years old to play.
  • Ice at the Galleria – Looking for something to do inside to cool down? How about ice skating followed by shopping at the Galleria?
  • Dave and Buster’s – You’ll find plenty of indoor fun here! The kids can play video games, laser tag, bowling and more to beat the Texas heat.
  • Edith L. Moore Nature Sanctuary – Bird watch with your binoculars and bird guide or explore and find other wildlife at this nature sanctuary.
  • Cosmic Jump – Let the kids jump around while you relax in this air conditioned facility.
  • ITZ – Beat the heat and let the kids ride the roller coaster, drive bumper cars and play over 100 video games at this attraction.  Note: Everyone must buy a drink and buffet to get in.

Sporting Venues

For the sports lover the Houston area is a mecca of huge stadiums and sports parks and hosts some of the nations’ top sports names in the business. Whether you are looking for a pro match-up or just a minor league game, you should be able to find something in Houston. Many of these sports arenas also host top name celebrities when there aren’t games going on, so you might even be able to take in a concert while you are in the Bayou City.

  • Minute Maid Park – Catch an Astros game while you are in Houston if they are playing at home.
  • BBVA Compass Stadium – If your kids play soccer they may enjoy catching a game with the Houston Dynamos.
  • Reliant Stadium – Watch a Houston Texans game under the dome at Reliant Stadium or see one of the many other groups that perform there.
  • Houston Toyota Center – If basketball is your game, you may want to take the kids to a Houston Rockets game.
  • Houston Motor Sports Park – Is NASCAR more your thing? Then take in a race at the speedway.
  • Houston Football Stadium – Groundbreaking on this stadium began in February 2013 and is expected to be completed in time for football season in 2014, so keep this venue in mind.
  • Kyle Field – If you’re an Aggie fan you may want to make a trip to Kyle Field for a game.
  • Houston Sportsplex – When the pros aren’t in town catch an adult senior league game at this field.
  • Constellation Field – Check out some minor league baseball at Constellation Field.
  • Houston Baptist University – When you’re in town look to see what sports are being played at Houston Baptist University, which hosts the new minor league men’s basketball team the Legends, as well as other college sports teams.
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10 Reasons for Toddler Meltdowns and How to Prevent Them Before They Happen

metldownYour toddler is full of excitement and wonder, discovering the world at all times. But when things don’t go his way, a meltdown is likely to ensue. Temper tantrums are a normal phase of toddlerhood, which is defined as 18 months to four years of age, says Dr. Fran Walfish, California-based psychotherapist and author of “The Self-Aware Parent: Resolving Conflict and Building a Better Bond with Your Child.”

“He has many objectives to achieve during this crucial period of development and many parents do not know how to help their growing children reach these milestones,” says Walfish.

As a parent, uncover the top 10 reasons your toddler may head toward meltdown mode and learn how to prevent them before they spin out of control.

  • Need for Independence: The goal of a toddler is to claim himself as a separate being from mommy and daddy, says Walfish. Therefore, when your child wants to claim his independence and is halted from doing tasks on his own, a meltdown often occurs. To avoid a fit of kicking and screaming, gradually begin to nurture your toddler’s independence by letting him “help” with household tasks. Even if his shirt is on inside out and his bed sheets are drooping on the floor, allow him to be a “big boy” and try to show his independence.
  • Separation from Mommy and Daddy: Even though your toddler wants her independence, she still craves nurturing from her parents. When dropping her off at daycare or preschool, she may not want to let go of you for the day. Instead of giving into the pleas and cries, redirect your child by discussing the fun activities and games she will get to experience while driving to school. If you show your toddler that her day will be filled with friends, snacks and games, it’s likely she may take off running and wave goodbye when it is time for the daily drop-off.
  • Lack of Sleep: Stopping meltdowns before they happen requires a deep understanding of the signs your child gives when he is about to blow, says Tara Kennedy-Kline, certified family parenting expert and author of “Stop Raising Einstein.” “If your toddler pulls his ear or twirls her hair when she is tired, and you see them doing that but take them to the playground anyway, expect a meltdown,” says Kennedy-Kline. Prevent a tantrum from your sleepy toddler by maintaining a consistent sleep and nap schedule. If your toddler tends to get tired late in the morning, avoid planning activities during that time. A well-rested toddler is less likely to breakdown in tears or throw a fit when you least expect it.
  • Hunger Pains: Just as your child needs plenty of rest, he also needs to keep a consistent feeding schedule. Even if your day is full of play dates and errands, keep a snack or two handy to avoid meltdowns triggered by hunger. Take note of signs such as a growling stomach or constant whining that indicate your child is ready to eat, says Kennedy-Kline.
  • Change in Schedule: Stick with a consistent schedule as much as possible, recommends Christina Steinorth, California-based psychotherapist and author of “Cue Cards for Life.” “Schedules and routines can be very soothing because there are no surprises for a toddler,” she says. Have regular bed, nap, meal and activity times to avoid triggering that oh-so terrifying tantrum.
  • Inability to Communicate: One of the most common reasons toddlers venture into meltdown mode is because they don’t have the ability to express themselves verbally, says Steinorth. “Your toddler may be tired, hungry, thirsty or bored and simply not be able to say “Mom, I’m tired,” she says. “In order to communicate his or her discomfort or dissatisfaction, your child will melt down.” Find ways to help your child communicate through pictures, objects and facial expressions to not only avoid meltdowns but also improve his ability to express himself when frustrated.
  • Illness: As adults, when we are feeling down and out, the last thing we want is interaction with others and a full day of activities. Your child responds the same way. If she is not feeling her best or is struggling with a cold or virus, it’s likely she is going to get cranky, prompting a toddler tantrum. Avoid these meltdowns by providing your child with the comfort she needs. This may entail cuddling on the couch with a blanket, making a trip to the doctor or resting together so she can regain her strength.
  • The “Forbidden” Object: No matter how much you child-proof your home, it’s natural for your toddler to find a way to explore forbidden objects, such as electronics, remotes and breakables. When he has finally acquired the object he has worked so hard to grab, you can bet he is going to fight to keep it. For the sake of safety, it is necessary for parents to take away items that can cause their child harm; however, be aware that a meltdown is right around the corner when this happens. The key to preventing a fit of screams from your little one is to redirect his attention to a better, shinier object. Keep a stash of toys or books hidden so you can both “discover” them when he has to let go of a “forbidden” object.
  • Sharing: Remember how you felt when you received a new toy as a gift? Beyond the excitement you felt, you also probably viewed the toy as yours and yours alone. When toddlers are asked to share their treasured toys, it’s a difficult task to watch another child take ownership of it, even if it’s just for a short time. Prevent meltdowns when asking your child to share with others by playing a game of taking turns or swapping toys for a timed period. When your toddler knows that he will receive his toy back in a specified amount of time, his level of anxiety will decrease and the possibility of a meltdown slowly fades.
  • The Word “No:” Rejection is difficult at any age, but when a toddler hears the word “No,” she doesn’t have the language ability to reason or negotiate. Consider offering options to avoid a complete meltdown. Instead of responding with “no” when she asks for a toy in the store, remind her of all of the nice toys she has at home. “Would you like to play with your baby doll with mommy when we get home?” will likely yield a much more positive response from your little one than a sharp-toned “no,” which dismisses her feelings.

Even though there is no surefire method of avoiding meltdowns at all times, according to Kennedy-Kline, it’s important to recognize that toddler tantrums are a form of expression that will eventually fade as your child acquires the ability to handle conflict and frustration. “The best thing is to remain completely calm, and never engage in a fight or argument with an escalating child,” she says.

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10 Steps to Getting Your Child to Stay in His Own Bed

boybedFamilies who are transitioning away from co-sleeping or even those who are new to dealing with a child who won’t stay in his own bed after moving to a toddler bed that’s easy to escape are no stranger to the challenge that is mastering the full night’s sleep. There are as many reasons why kids won’t stay in their beds as there are kids themselves, and as many motivations for coming to find a parent after waking abruptly as there are sleepless nights. Finding a method that works for your family may require a bit of trial and error, but with a bit of dedication, you’ll find your child sleeping the night away in his own bed before you know it.

  • Find the Root of the Problem – The first step to getting your child to successfully spend the night in his own bed is to find out why he’s having trouble doing so in the first place. Some kids will get out of bed at night because they’re afraid of imaginary monsters, other because they’re simply awakened by something and aren’t able to self-soothe until they fall asleep again. To solve this particular problem, you’re going to need to uncover the root of it and work around what you discover.
  • Start a New Routine – Allowing a bit of wiggle room in your child’s bedroom routine can have a major impact on the success or failure of your ability to keep him in his bed at night, especially if he’s getting up because he’s having bad dreams or is afraid. Make room for a “monster check,” take the time to work a bedtime story into the routine, or allow him to wind down a bit by starting the routine earlier and working towards the goal of getting in bed with less pressure.
  • Encourage Self-Soothing – If part of your child’s established routine includes you spending time in his bed or in his room until he falls asleep, it may be time to rethink your strategy. After all, a child who’s dependent upon you in order to get to sleep will naturally come searching for you when he wakes up and can’t accomplish the task on his own. Start working on helping your child to fall asleep on his own and you may find that the bulk of your problem is already solved.
  • Keep Your Language Positive and Optimistic – When you talk to your child about staying in his bed, make sure that your language is upbeat and positive, rather than stern or overly authoritarian. Make spending a night in his bed sound like the major milestone it is, not something he must do because he’s afraid he’ll be punished or you’ll be disappointed.
  • Work Gradually Towards Your Goal – You may not be sleeping in a child free bed the night you start working towards that goal. You may not even be there a week from starting your routine. It’s important to keep the end game in mind, though, rather than focusing on immediate results. After all, you want a lasting solution, not one that’s temporary.
  • Get Kids Involved in the Process – Giving your child a bit of ownership over the situation by letting him pick out new sheets, select a special animal to sleep with or even have a bit of say in his bed time can go a long way when you’re trying to reach an understanding about sleep. Let your child know that you want him to be excited about this new chapter in his “big boy” life, and give him some control to reflect that status.
  • Make a Game of The Situation – If you set up a system of rewards for every successful night in bed or make each night seem like a fun, new challenge, you may find that you’re having better results than if you’re just trying to lay down the proverbial law to your struggling child.
  • Maintain Consistency – When little feet come padding into your room in the wee hours of the morning, it can be easier to just let it slide than to get out of bed and meet the challenge. Consistency is key, though, because you don’t want to send mixed messages to your child. Just get up, lead him back to his bed and avoid engaging with him along the way. With consistent repetition, your child will learn that coming to your room is not a means of getting the results he had in mind.
  • Be Patient – It’s not easy to keep your cool when you’re sleep deprived and frustrated, but losing your patience and lashing out is a surefire way to inspire a setback. Make a concerted effort to be patient and understanding, rather than exasperated and angry.
  • Reward Successes, Don’t Punish Setbacks – Instead of shaming your child or punishing him when he’s struggling, make a point of rewarding his successful efforts. Understand that your child wants you to be proud of him, and wants to earn your approval, even though the change you’re asking him to make is a big and sometimes scary one.
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How to Use Temping to Stay Afloat During Your Job Search

tempingOne of the most stressful parts of looking for a job is the financial hardship that often comes with being unemployed. Nannies who are on the hunt for a new job have the option to earn extra money while they search by babysitting or temp nannying. Taking on temp jobs brings in a steady stream of income while still allowing you time to interview for a full-time position. Here are some tips for successfully temping during your search. In fact, many nannies love it so much they keep it up even after they land a job.

Get your CPR/First Aid certification up to date. When you’re looking for a full time job, you generally have four to six weeks from your hire date to get your certification up to date. When you’re temping, it needs to be up to date before you go out on any jobs. You can usually attend a class any weekend at your neighborhood hospital, fire station or community center.

Create a resume just for temp work. The experience and skills you emphasize when trying to find temporary assignments are different than when you’re looking for a full-time job. Review your current resume and tweak it so it’s appealing to temp clients. Emphasize your varied babysitting experience and your ability to easily adjust to new situations, put both parents and kids at ease and work with a wide variety of ages and temperaments. With an up-to-date resume, your chances of landing a temp job greatly increases.

Register with online job sites. There are several online job sites that specialize in connecting babysitters with parents. You can use these sites to find parents looking for a one-time commitment or parents looking to lock into an ongoing arrangement. The parents may need a date night sitter, a backup provider for their sick or vacationing nanny, a hotel caregiver or just a nanny to care for the kids while Mom or Dad are at work or out running errands. Once you get a few clients under your belt, you can add reviews and recommendations that will boost the appeal of your profile. Creating and maintaining an online profile is an easy way to keep adding clients to your roster. A good sitter who actively searches for assignments on online sites can usually stay as busy as she wants.

Register with temp nanny agencies. Like online sites, temp agencies specialize in connecting nannies and parents. The big difference in using a temp agency is the agency does all the legwork for you. They find and screen the families, present your information to them and take the job information. This is another great way to stay busy. Often you’ll make a little less working for a temp agency because the family must also pay the agency fees on top of the caregiver fees. But for many nannies, the time and energy you save by having the agency set up the jobs is well worth it.

Take out money for taxes. Even though your temp clients won’t have to pay taxes on the money they pay you in most cases, you’re still obligated to report and pay taxes on the money you earn. By saving an appropriate amount from each payment, you’ll be prepared for your tax bill at the end of the year. Online calculators can help you determine how much you should save each week.

Collect reference letters as you go. References from current clients are one of the best ways to woo new clients. Once you’ve established a good working relationship with a parent, ask for a letter of reference that outlines how frequently you babysit, the ages of the children you care for, the things you are responsible for and the type of relationship you have with the children. Stories and examples are wonderful ways to showcase your personality, caregiving experience and unique skills.

Develop a temp agreement. If you’re finding clients outside of a temp agency, you’ll be responsible for setting rates and guidelines for your clients. Clearly detail your rates and any special circumstances that would make them change, such as a higher rate for multiple children or for children with special needs. Also, define your cancelation policy so parents will know what they’ll owe you if they cancel or need to reschedule. Make your policies fair to parents while also providing financial protection for yourself. Give parents a copy of your policies before you take on your first job with them to avoid any miscommunications. You can make it available through your online profile or you can email it to the parents.

Temping is a great way to make money during your job search. With a little organization and planning, you don’t have to go without a steady income while you look for your next full-time position.

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5 Tips for Asking Your Nanny Boss for a Day Off

dayoffAs a private, in-home childcare provider, you are an integral part of your employer’s system that keeps their home running while they’re away. You’re entrusted with the responsibility of looking after the children in your employers’ family, thus ensuring that they’re able to maintain their own careers in order to provide for the household. This makes reliability and punctuality a must. Even the busiest employers realize, however, that their nannies will need to take the occasional day off. For the nannies involved, finding a way of asking for that much-needed day off can be a tricky task. Before you despair, consider these five tips for successfully handling a request for a personal day.

  • Make Appointments Around Their Schedule – The vast majority of employers want a nanny that’s in peak physical condition and great health, that way she’s able to keep up with the demands of a busy, rambunctious child. If you’re planning to ask for a day off in order to make a doctor’s appointment, it may be more effective to first address your employers to determine what days would work best for them, then schedule the appointment accordingly. Your employers will be able to more easily accommodate for your absence, and you’ll be more assured of getting the time you need with minimal hassle.
  • Be Direct – If your employers are so busy that they’re likely to take issue with your need for a day off, it’s a safe bet that they won’t welcome you wasting their time with a long, drawn out request or beating around the bush. Whether you need a day off for personal or health reasons, you’re more likely to score the day with the least amount of resistance or resentment if you’re clear and direct. Let your employers know that you need the day off, rather than dropping passive-aggressive hints in the weeks leading up to your request and then calling in at the last minute when your employers don’t pick up on them.
  • Send an Email – In today’s fast-paced world, you may have more luck nailing your employers down to make your formal request for a day off if you send an email. Time for phone calls isn’t always easy to find for the overscheduled businessperson, morning hand-offs can be a bit too hectic to properly frame a response and your employers may be too tired at the end of the work day to address the situation. By sending an email with the details of your request, you’re giving yourself the chance to double- and triple-check your words for clarity and professionalism, as well as giving your employers the chance to consider that request and to respond to it at their convenience. When you accost them during their hectic morning rush or at the end of a rough day, your request for a day off can feel more like an ambush that they’re pressured into dealing with on the spot. By giving them time to make the proper arrangements and determine their own availability, you’re more likely to avoid irritation and frustration resulting from another demand placed on an exhausted, drained parent.
  • Give Plenty of Notice – Approaching your employers with a request for a day off without sufficient notice puts them on the spot and creates a stressful, pressure-cooker of a situation for an already harried parent to deal with in short order. Avoiding this stress can be as simple as making your request as early as possible so that your employers have ample time to make alternate childcare arrangements and to address the situation accordingly. You may even be more likely to get the time that you’re requesting if you’re not putting them on the spot with a last-minute request, as it can seem easier to simply decline a formal request for time off that’s submitted at the last minute and deal with the fallout than to make hasty, on-the-fly adjustments to accommodate one that’s delayed until the eleventh hour.
  • Keep Requests to a Minimum – While you can’t help an illness or the occasional family emergency, it’s important to realize that employers tend to be far more willing to go out of their way to fulfill a request for time off when they’re few and far between. Making a habit of asking for days off at a moment’s notice or establishing a pattern of unreliability can make your employers think twice about whether or not you’re the right fit for their family, as well as less apt to make special arrangements when your requests come at frequent intervals. Avoid frivolous or excessive requests, and make sure that you’re proving yourself to be a reliable, dependable asset to the family, rather than a fickle liability who regularly leaves them in the lurch.

If part of your compensation package includes paid time off or paid personal days, it’s wise to make sure that you and your employer have a mutual understanding on how much notice is required to secure the time off. You may find that you have more luck with last-minute requests when you have a back-up provider you can suggest to provide coverage, that way they don’t feel like you are leaving them stranded on short notice.

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How to be a Great Temp Nanny

babysittingMost full-service nanny placement agencies now offer parents the option of helping them find a sitter to provide sick child care, hotel babysitting and temporary nanny services. In addition, online sites are filled with parents looking for babysitters and temporary nannies. For caregivers that are flexible and willing to take on new challenges, this can be a great additional source of income. Here are some tips for being a successful temp nanny.

Have a way to stay in touch with your agency or parents. Being available on short notice is a key component to being a temp nanny. Sometimes parents have lots of advance notice, but most times they need a temp because their child suddenly came down with a fever or their regular caregiver called in sick, so they need someone ASAP. The easiest way to stay connected is to have a smartphone where you can easily access texts and emails as well as calls. That way, however the agency or parent normally communicates, you’ll be ready.

Give parents the information they need up front to be comfortable with you. If you’re working with an agency, they will provide the parents with all the information they need. If you’re working directly with parents, give them a portfolio with your resume, background check and reference letters. Knowing that you’re a qualified and screened caregiver will help put them at ease and make them feel comfortable leaving their children with you.

Always collect the information you need about the child before the parent leaves. A parent hiring a temp nanny is often in a hurry. She’s waiting for you to arrive so she can get to work, to school or wherever else she needs to be. No matter how much of a hurry she’s in, make sure that you have complete information on the child before she leaves. Does he have any allergies? Is he on any medications? If he’s sick, what have his symptoms been and what medications has he been given? Also, make sure you have complete emergency contact information. Of course you should always be able to immediately contact the parent if needed. You should also have the phone number of the pediatrician and the address of the nearest emergency room. Chances are you’ll never need that information, but it’s still important to have.

Have a bag full of tricks. There’s nothing that puts a child at ease more than a nanny who comes with a bag full of coloring books, colors, puzzles, games and toys. Have a nanny bag that you keep stocked full of age appropriate toys and activities for the child you’ll be caring for. It’s fun for the child and it lets the parents know their child is in good hands. If you’re a repeat caregiver, you’ll find the child anxiously awaiting your arrival because she’s excited to see what fun stuff you have in your bag for this visit.

Keep a log of your time with the child. Parents love to know what’s happening with their child while they’re gone. Record when, what and how much he ate, when he napped and for how long and the activities you did together. If the child is sick, record any symptoms and medicines you gave him. This is also the place where you can make any additional notes about things like delivers made or phone messages.

Brush up on your listening skills. Parents will be giving you a lot of information in a short amount of time. If you need to, make notes as you talk so you’ll have accurate information to refer back to. Ask about the security system, the TV system, meal requirements, nap and bedtime routines, any special toys or loveys that the child can’t do without, pets and other things that will make the time go by smoothly. You’re not only in charge of the child, but also of the home. The more you know, the better you can do your job.

Don’t be afraid to ask questions. If there’s something you don’t understand or that the family hasn’t covered, simply ask. It’s much better to ask smart questions and be prepared than to guess in silence and be unprepared. Some nannies are afraid that they’ll appear incapable if they ask questions. Actually, the opposite is true. Questions about key issues show that you know what is important and that you’re committed to doing a great job. If you need to, take notes so you’ll have something to refer back to.

Being a temp nanny can be a great way to earn some extra income or even provide a full time income over the long haul. With a little effort, you can make it a great success!

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