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Having a nanny can be a truly wonderful experience. After all, a nanny is not simply an employee. It is quite possible she’ll become an integrated part of your child’s life, and yours too.


When your nanny first begins, you may realize there’s much more involved than you had ever imagined. Is she self-employed, or should she be claimed as an employee? Is a nanny contract really necessary? How do I get this right?

I’ve worked as a nanny with a variety of families. There are many things that make a world of difference in the lives of families, and the nannies they work with. Here’s a list of pointers that may come in handy:

Don’t underestimate the nanny contract

Laying out a contract for a nanny may seem unnecessary. Maybe you bonded instantly during the interview and it seems like you’re on the same page for everything. Or maybe you’re worried that suggesting one implies that you don’t trust her.

A contract ensures that you and the nanny have discussed terms, and come to an agreement on things like responsibilities, hours, pay-rate, overtime, vacations, holidays, sick days, and the like. Put it in writing so that it can be referred back to. That way everyone’s needs are explicitly stated and the chances of misinterpretation and feelings of frustration are minimized. It’s also helpful to review the contract each year together just in case updates are necessary.

Help her help you

When it comes to having someone else watch your children, the first thing on your mind is safety. That means making sure your nanny has everything she needs, not only to keep an accident from happening but to be able to handle one it does:

  • Keep an easy-to-access list of emergency numbers including Poison Control, the local hospital, your pediatrician, and a ranking of family members to contact.
  • Have a first-aid kit readily available in the home, and a small, portable kit for the nanny to toss in a bag, the stroller, or the car on outings.
  • As soon as your child is mobile, have safety locks and gates in place – especially gates on steps and to areas of the house that are off-limits.
  • Provide a secure place for the child to play while the nanny uses the bathroom, installs the car seat in her car, or cleans up a particularly fun (i.e. big) mess.
  • All safety straps for strollers and high chairs should be in place and fully functional, even if you choose not to use them.
  • If there is a dangerous new habit your child has picked up, pass that along to the nanny.

Morning updates are crucial

There’s no denying just how trying mornings can be. Getting out of the house on time each day may even seem like a recurring miracle. One thing you don’t want to forget is to give your nanny a quick morning update.

Just a few minutes spent filling her in on your ever-changing child can make a real difference in the day. For instance, has your child started potty training or teething? Are they having trouble napping, or suddenly prone to emotional outbursts? It’s a small way to ensure that your nanny is going in fully armed and ready for anything the day throws at her.

Keep the necessities out

When your nanny begins, let her know where things like jackets, shoes, sunscreen, paper towels, and cleaning products can be found, and keep these items located in the same easy-to-find spots. Your nanny doesn’t know your house like you do, and the time spent figuring out how to clean a spill or find the mittens is time your nanny isn’t spending having fun with your child.

Your nanny isn’t expecting a sparkling house. However, keeping things functional is helpful. If the toddler has just wet themselves while potty training and the baby is having a meltdown, your nanny won’t be able to respond as quickly if she then discovers that the way to the laundry room is blocked, the paper towels are gone, and the trash can is overflowing.

Be honest about when you’re getting back

Your nanny has a life after work, or in some cases, more work after work, and it can cause her to feel that her time isn’t valued if you’re consistently coming home late. If you are running behind, text or call to let her know so she can plan accordingly. If the lateness is recurring, then it’s time to revisit the schedule portion of the nanny contract. Of course, don’t forget to pay her for that extra time.

Responsibilities should be realistic

A nanny will typically complete tasks associated with the children, such as picking up toys, keeping their rooms cleaned, washing dishes used throughout the day, and doing the children’s laundry. If there are tasks required beyond that, discuss them with her and include them in the contract.

For the extra tasks, extra pay is expected. Also, keep in mind when considering extra chores that a nanny doesn’t get normal breaks. Overloading her with tasks can result in her feeling run-down, and unable to dedicate the energy level you hope for to your children.

A penny saved, could be a penny lost

If you’re expecting to take a lot of time off throughout the year for vacations, or family visits, inform your nanny before she starts. If you don’t have dates, an overall estimation of how much time throughout the year you will not need her will help. Always assume that your nanny is counting on every cent she earns because in most cases, she absolutely is.

You want to find someone who can match your schedule without inadvertently sacrificing expected income. This also includes last minute days off and half days. Those can really add up. Losing your favorite caregiver is not in anyone’s best interest.

Understand what self-employment really means

Childcare is expensive. In an attempt to minimize expenses, many parents will choose to hire their nanny as an independent contractor. On the surface, this does appear to be a great option. The truth is, however, that when a nanny agrees to be self-employed, they are often getting the short end of the stick, and neither they or the parents realize it – until tax season, that is.

When a nanny is recognized as an employee, parents are required by law to withhold the nanny’s portion of social security and medicare taxes from her paycheck, and make contributions to social security, medicare, and possibly even state and federal unemployment funds themselves.

These taxes are known as “Nanny Taxes” or “Payroll Taxes.” But when your nanny works as an independent contractor, she is then expected to pay the entire amount of those taxes out of her own pocket and is no longer eligible for unemployment if she is let go.

It can be even worse if a nanny is informed of being an independent contractor just as tax season begins, resulting in a huge debt she has not had the year to save up for.

Misfiling in regards to your nanny could even be interpreted as tax evasion by the IRS. Sorting out payroll for your nanny may seem daunting. There are many resources online that make it simple to understand payroll taxes and how they affect your family. There are also payroll services that make calculating each week’s paycheck easy.  

Avoid cabin fever

Being a nanny is an immensely rewarding position. It’s not without its challenges, however. Spending hours alone with a child can be isolating and lonely at times. Be sure that you’re allowing her the opportunity to take the children to places where both she, and your child can be social. It will benefit not only your nanny, it will also encourage your child to be active, well-rounded, and to develop important social skills.

Don’t forget reimbursement and petty cash

Money for your child’s lunch, project supplies, or special activities should never come out your nanny’s pocket. Either have her keep receipts so that you can compensate her on payday, or have cash set aside in a special envelope or wallet that she can use specifically for the child.

Take it one step at a time

Life is crazy – I don’t need to tell you that – and your little ones are just as susceptible to feeling overwhelmed as you are. Sometimes, a lot of transition can be difficult and lead to aggression, regression, sudden outbursts, and separation anxiety.

Having a new person in the house taking care of them might prove to be more than they’re ready for. Consider making the transition easier by speaking to your child often about a nanny coming into the house and what this will mean for them.

You could also have the nanny come over for short visits beforehand to allow your little one time to become comfortable. You may even consider waiting on hiring a nanny until your child is in a better place to handle the situation.

Build a united front

When it’s time to hire a nanny, both you and your spouse/partner should be on the same page regarding key components of raising a child. If one parent is okay with your nanny letting the baby “cry-it-out,” but the other is not, this can lead to confusion and tension for everyone, including the child.

This also means reinforcing the nanny’s judgment calls. If a parent is regularly disregarding the nanny’s rules in front of the child, this not only undermines the nanny’s authority, but it teaches your child to do the same. If you don’t appear to respect her rules, the child won’t either.

Collaboration is key

Having a nanny is very much a collaboration. Communicating openly and often with her is key. That means considering your nanny’s suggestions, incorporating certain techniques that you notice work, and sharing with her any new tricks you’ve discovered.

It also means being honest with your nanny if you notice her handling a situation in a way that makes you uncomfortable, or that you don’t think is actually helping. This will help create consistency and allow you both to come up with more effective game plans that benefit your little one.

Let her know she’s valued

The families that best connect with their nannies are the ones that take the time to get to know her and show her she is valued. Just a few minutes spent talking about things other than the children with your nanny reminds her that you care for and respect her. Polite conversations about school, her family, or weekend plans will allow her to feel better connected to you and your family, which will make you more approachable if there is an issue.

If you see her going above and beyond to do something special for your child, let her know that you noticed it, and appreciate it. Bonuses and raises to reward her for her performance are important and should be considered, too. Everything she does is because she cares deeply. She wants to be shown the same consideration.

What do you think of the tips above? Have any of your own? Feel free to add them in the comments below.

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We spend a lot of time prepping for the arrival of a baby. But when it comes to the arrival of our breast milk (and all the massive adjustments that come with it), it's easy to be caught off guard. Stocking up on a few breastfeeding essentials can make the transition to breastfeeding a lot less stressful, which means more time and energy focusing on what's most important: Your recovery and your brand new baby.

Here are the essential breastfeeding tools you'll need, mama:

1. For covering up: A cute nursing cover

First and foremost, please know that all 50 states in the United States have laws that allow women to breastfeed in public. You do not have to cover yourself if you don't want to—and many mamas choose not to—and we are all for it.

That said, if you do anticipate wanting to take a more modest approach to breastfeeding, a nursing cover is a must. You will find an array of styles to choose from, but we love an infinity scarf, like the LK Baby Infinity Nursing Scarf Nursing Cover. You'll be able to wear the nursing cover instead of stuffing it in your already brimming diaper bag—and it's nice to have it right there when the baby is ready to eat.

Also, in the inevitable event that your baby spits-up on you or you leak some milk through your shirt, having a quick and stylish way to cover up is a total #momwin.

2. For getting comfortable: A cozy glider

Having a comfy spot to nurse can make a huge difference. Bonus points if that comfy place totally brings a room together, like the Delta Children Paris Upholstered Glider!

Get your cozy space ready to go, and when your baby is here, you can retreat from the world and just nurse, bond, and love.

3. For unmatched support: A wire-free nursing bra

It may take trying on several brands to find the perfect match, but finding a nursing bra that you love is 100% worth the effort. Your breasts will be changing and working in ways that are hard to imagine. An excellent supportive bra will make this so much more comfortable.

It is crucial to choose a wireless bra for the first weeks of nursing since underwire can increase the risk of clogged ducts (ouch).The Playtex Maternity Shaping Foam Wirefree Nursing Bra is an awesome pick for this reason, and because it is designed to flex and fit your breasts as they go through all those changes.

4. For maximum hydration: A large reusable water bottle

Nothing can prepare you for the intense thirst that hits when breastfeeding. Quench that thirst (and help keep your milk supply up in the process) by always having a water bottle with a straw nearby, like this Exquis Large Outdoor Water Bottle.

5. For feeding convenience: A supportive nursing tank

Experts recommend that during the first weeks of your baby's life, you breastfeed on-demand, meaning that any time your tiny boss demands milk, you feed them. This will help establish your milk supply and get everything off to a good start.

What does this mean for your life? You will be breastfeeding A LOT. Nursing tanks, like the Loving Moments by Leading Lady, make this so much easier. They have built-in support to keep you comfy, and you can totally wear them around the house, or even out and about. When your baby wants to eat, you'll be able to quickly "pop out" a breast and feed them.

6. For pain prevention: A quality nipple ointment

Breastfeeding shouldn't hurt, but the truth is those first days can be uncomfortable. Your nipples will likely feel raw as they adjust to their new job. This will get better! But until it does, nipple ointment is amazing.

My favorite is the Earth Mama Organic Nipple Butter. We love that it's organic, and it is oh-so-soothing on your hard-at-work nipples.

Psst: If it actually hurts when your baby latches on, something may be up, so call your provider or a lactation consultant for help.

7. For uncomfortable moments: A dual breast therapy pack

As your breasts adjust to their new role, you may experience a few discomforts—applying warmth or cold can help make them feel so much better. The Lansinoh TheraPearl 3-in-1 Breast Therapy Pack is awesome because you can microwave the pads or put them in the freezer, giving you a lot of options when your breasts need some TLC.

Again, if you have any concerns about something being wrong (pain, a bump that may be red or hot, fever, or anything else), call a professional right away.

8. For inevitable leaks: An absorbing breast pad

In today's episode of, "Oh come on, really?" you are going to leak breastmilk. Now, this is entirely natural and you are certainly not required to do anything about this. Still, many moms choose to wear breast pads in their bras to avoid leaking through to their shirts.

You can go the convenient and disposable route with Lansinoh Disposable Stay Dry Nursing Pads, or for a more environmentally friendly option, you can choose washable pads, like these Organic Bamboo Nursing Breast Pads.

9. For flexibility: A breast pump

Many women find that a breast pump becomes one of their most essential mom-tools. The ability to provide breast milk when you are away from your baby (and relieve uncomfortable engorged breasts) will add so much flexibility into your new-mom life.

For quick trips out and super-easy in-your-bag transport, opt for a manual pump like the Lansinoh Manual Breast Pump .

If you will be away from your baby for longer periods of time (traveling or working outside the home, for example) an electric pump is your most efficient bet. The Medela Pump In Style Advanced Double Electric Breast Pump is a classic go-to that will absolutely get the job done, and then some.

10. For quality storage: Breast milk bags

Once you pump your liquid gold, aka breast milk, you'll need a place to store it. The Kiinde Twist Pouches allow you to pump directly into the bags which means one less step (and way less to clean).

11. For keeping cool: A freezer bag

Transport your pumped milk back home to your baby safely in a cooler like the Mommy Knows Best Breast Milk Baby Bottle Cooler Bag. Remember to put the milk in a fridge or freezer as soon as you can to optimize how long it stays usable for.

12. For continued nourishment: Bottles

Nothing beats the peace of mind you get when you know that your baby is being well-taken of care—and well fed—until you can be together again. The Philips Avent Natural Baby Bottle Newborn Starter Gift Set is a fan favorite (mama and baby fans alike).

This article is sponsored by Walmart. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

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Motherly is committed to covering all relevant presidential candidate plans as we approach the 2020 election. We are making efforts to get information from all candidates. Motherly does not endorse any political party or candidate. We stand with and for mothers and advocate for solutions that will reduce maternal stress and benefit women, families and the country.

Coverage:

A viral video about car seat safety has parents everywhere cracking up and humming Sir-Mix-A-Lot.

"I like safe kids and I cannot lie," raps Norman Regional Health System pediatric hospitalist Dr. Kate Cook (after prefacing her music video with an apology to her children."I'm a doctor tryin' warn you that recs have changed," she continues.

Dr. Cook's rap video is all about the importance of keeping babies facing backward. It's aptly called "Babies Face Back," and uses humor and parody to drive home car seat recommendations from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).

"Switching from rear-facing to forward-facing is a milestone many parents can't wait to reach," Dr. Cook said in a news release about her hilarious video. "But this is one area where you want to delay the transition as long as possible because each one actually reduces the protection to the child."

Last summer the AAP updated its official stance on car seat safety to be more in line with what so many parents were already doing and recommended that kids stay rear-facing for as long as possible. But with so many things to keep track of in life, it is understandable that some parents still don't know about the change. Dr. Cook wants to change that with some cringe-worthy rapping.

The AAP recommends:

  • Babies and toddlers should ride in a rear-facing car safety seat as long as possible, until they reach the highest weight or height allowed by their seat.
  • Once they are facing forward, children should use a forward-facing car safety seat with a harness for as long as possible. Many seats are good up to 65 pounds.
  • When children outgrow their car seat they should use a belt-positioning booster seat until the vehicle's lap and shoulder seat belt fits properly, between 8 and 12 years old.

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[Editor's note: Motherly is committed to covering all relevant presidential candidate plans as we approach the 2020 election. We are making efforts to get information from all candidates. Motherly does not endorse any political party or candidate. We stand with and for mothers and advocate for solutions that will reduce maternal stress and benefit women, families and the country.]

Suicide rates for girls and women in the United States have increased 50% since 2000, according to the CDC and new research indicates a growing number of pregnant and postpartum women are dying by suicide and overdose. Suicide rates for boys and men are up, too.

It's clear there is a mental health crisis in America and it is robbing children of their mothers and mothers of their children.

Medical professionals urge people to get help early, but sometimes getting help is not so simple. For many Americans, the life preserver that is mental health care is out of reach when they are drowning.

Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg just released a plan he hopes could change that and says the neglect of mental health in the United States must end. "Our plan breaks down the barriers around mental health and builds up a sense of belonging that will help millions of suffering Americans heal," says Buttigieg.

He thinks he can "prevent 1 million deaths of despair by 2028" by giving Americans more access to mental health and addictions services.

In a country where giving birth can put a mother in debt, it's not surprising that while as many as 1 in 5 new moms suffers from perinatal mood and anxiety disorders, more than half of new moms who need mental health treatment don't get it. Stigma, childcare and of course costs are factors in why women aren't seeking help when they are struggling.

Buttigieg's plan is interesting because it could remove some of these barriers. He wants to make mental health care more affordable by ensuring everyone has comprehensive coverage for mental health care and by ensuring that everyone can access a free yearly mental health check-up.

That could make getting help more affordable for some moms, and by increasing reimbursement rates for mental health care delivered through telehealth, this plan could help moms get face time with a medical professional without having to deal with finding childcare first.

Estimates from new research suggest that in some parts of America as many as 14% or 30% of maternal deaths are caused by addiction or suicide. Buttigieg's plan aims to reduce those estimates by fighting the addiction and opioid crisis and increasing access to mental health services in underserved communities and for people of color. He also wants to reduce the stigma and increase support for the next generation by requiring "every school across the country to teach Mental Health First Aid courses."

These are lofty goals with a lofty price tag. It would cost about $300 billion to do what Buttigieg sets out in his plan and the specifics of how the plan would be funded aren't yet known. Neither is how voters will react to this 18-page plan and whether it will help Buttigieg stand out in a crowded field of Democratic candidates.

What we do know is that right now, America is talking about mental health and whether or not that benefits Buttigieg's campaign it will certainly benefit America.

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[Editor's Note: Welcome to It's Science, a Motherly column focusing on evidence-based explanations for the important moments, milestones, and phenomena of motherhood. Because it's not just you—#itsscience.]

If you breastfeed, you know just how magical (and trying) it is, but it has numerous benefits for mama and baby. It is known to reduce the likelihood of developing cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, and rheumatoid arthritis, and cuts the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) by half.

If this wasn't powerful enough, scientists have discovered that babies who are fed breast milk have a stomach pH that promotes the formation of HAMLET (Human Alpha-lactalbumin Made Lethal to Tumor cells). HAMLET was discovered by chance when researchers were studying the antibacterial properties of breast milk. This is a combination of proteins and lipids found in breast milk that can work together to kill cancer cells, causing them to pull away from healthy cells, shrink and die, leaving the healthy cells unaffected.

According to researchers at Lund University in Sweden, this mechanism may contribute to the protective effect breast milk has against pediatric tumors and leukemia, which accounts for about 30% of all childhood cancer. Other researchers analyzed 18 different studies, finding that "14% to 19% of all childhood leukemia cases may be prevented by breastfeeding for six months or more."

And recently, doctors in Sweden collaborated with scientists in Prague to find yet another amazing benefit to breast milk. Their research demonstrated that a certain milk sugar called Alpha1H, found only in breast milk, helps in the production of lactose and can transform into a different form that helps break up tumors into microscopic fragments in the body.

Patients who were given a drug based on this milk sugar, rather than a placebo, passed whole tumor fragments in their urine. And there is more laboratory evidence to support that the drug can kill more than 40 different types of cancer cells in animal trials, including brain tumors and colon cancer. These results are inspiring scientists to continue to explore HAMLET as a novel approach to tumor therapy and make Alpha1H available to cancer patients.

Bottom line: If you choose to breastfeed, the breast milk your baby gets from your hard work can be worth every drop of effort.

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