What’s Your SNOW DAY Policy?

Last year we had a horrible winter. Cities across the country, including those that rarely see any kind of winter weather, got slammed with snow, ice, and dangerously cold temperatures. Who knows what this year will bring weather-wise. But whatever that is, it’s essential that you have a clear snow day policy in place before it’s needed.

No Snow Days Allowed
Some nanny employers have to work regardless of the weather. This group usually includes first responders (e.g. fire fighters, police officers) and medical personnel (e.g. emergency room doctors, nurses). In these cases, there’s not an option for the nanny to stay home due to bad weather. She has to make it to work to ensure her employer can make it to work. This usually means the nanny stays over the night before the storm hits.

Who decides if the nanny needs to stay the night? Of course, the best case scenario is that it’s a mutual decision between the parents and nanny but that isn’t always the case so there needs to be one, ultimate decider. And since it’s the parent’s need driving the decision, it’s usually the parent’s choice.

When will that decision be made? It’s important to lay out how much notice the nanny will be given for a required overnight.

What will the nanny be paid? Although the nanny isn’t working during her overnight stay, she’s there because her employers need her to be there. Because they need that guarantee of availability regardless of the next day’s forecast. Since it’s a requirement rather than a choice, the nanny generally receives a stipend that covers the off hours spent at her employers’ home.

Where will the nanny sleep? A guest bedroom with private access to a bathroom is the best set-up. If that’s not available, go with whatever gives the nanny the most privacy. Crashing on the couch and showering in the kid’s bathroom isn’t fun for the parents or the nanny. Although the kids would probably love it!

Does the nanny have a child or pet that need to be considered? If she does, make sure they are part of the plan. Some employers welcome the nanny’s child or pet into their home for the night. Other employers give extra notice and dollars so the nanny has time to coordinate back-up care and pay for the back-up caregiver. And other employers simply pay an overnight stipend that reflects the added expense and inconvenience the nanny may incur.

What Does a Snow Day Policy Include?
Many employers have the option of taking off work for bad weather but that doesn’t mean they don’t need a snow day policy. In fact, because there are so many questions that come with that time off, it’s especially important to have a plan of action in place before the snow or ice hits.

How is a bad weather day defined? Some employers base their policy on school closures, local government closures, the governor’s declaration of a state of emergency, or an assessment of the local road conditions. Whatever your “it’s too bad to come in” standard is, make sure the definition is clear and easily assessable. And remember, this standard answers the question ‘Should the nanny go to work?’ and also ‘Should the nanny go home early?’

If you’re relying on an assessment, who makes the final call? This can be a tough decision. It’s important for the employer because it determines if she’ll have childcare. And it’s important for the nanny because it determines if she’ll have a safe commute to and from work. Hopefully this can be a mutual decision, however the parents and nanny often have different perspectives around how bad is too bad to come in. So it’s important to decide in advance who will make the final call.

Remember that there may be outside factors that you need to consider in your assessment. If the nanny takes the train or bus to and from work, her ability to make it to work and the time she’ll arrive will be determined by how the weather affects the public transportation system. If you live in an area that rarely sees winter weather, the nanny may have a car that’s simply not safe for even mild winter driving. All these factors need to be considered when creating your snow day policy.

Will the nanny be paid for snow days? This is a pretty straightforward question. For employers that live in an area where harsh winters are the norm, it’s standard to offer 1 to 3 paid bad weather days per year. In other areas, paid snow days are a value add to the compensation package.

Does the nanny have children or pets at home? When the weather is bad, even if the roads are considered safe for travel, the nanny’s commute time can easily double or triple. If she has a child or pet relying on her to be home at a certain time, it can be impossible for her to work her typical schedule simply because she can’t afford the extra commute time. If this is the case, will her schedule be shortened on bad weather days and how will that affect her pay?

Should the nanny work if a parent is home?  Many parents feel that if their nanny can make it to work, she should come in even if the parent is taking the day off or working from home. Many nannies feel that if a parent is home, she shouldn’t have to chance unsafe roads or deal with the hassle of traveling in bad weather. It’s important to talk about how both sides feel about these issues and develop a policy that’s fair to both parents and caregivers.

By Lora Brawley
Nanny Biz Reviews

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Top 10 Gift Ideas for the LEGO Fan in your Life


10. Brick Popper

The tool you have been waiting for has finally arrived. The Brick Popper is a revolutionary tool designed to quickly pop apart LEGO® bricks, Mega Bloks® and other toy bricks that are stuck together. No more screwdrivers. No more butter knives. No more broken fingernails. With the Brick Popper, you can use the patented groove to pop bricks apart. Or, you can use the spoke to pull special bricks off.


9. Minifigure Display Cases

Display your minifigures in style. Perfect for LEGO, OYO, Megablock, KRE-O, and more.
This is the ideal display case as it can hold 1, 2, 3 or 4 minifigures as well as you can create mini scenes in them.
-Includes Baseplates
-6 x 8 studs


8. Digital LEGO Style Sports Watch

Sports LED Digital Lego Style Brick Watch for Men, Women, and Children.

Great Gift idea for the person who has it all!
Movement perfectly accurate quality Quartz
Feature    Electro Luminescent, Chronograph, Calendar, Alarm, Digital, LCD



Check out the huge variety of light kits available to enhance any LEGO creation big or small!



6. Minifigures

LEGO fans can NEVER have to many LEGO Minifigures!






5. Custom LEGO Kits

Your LEGO fan will be impressed you found them custom exclusive LEGO kits designed by famous LEGO designers! You can not buy these in stores!



4. No KRAGLE Hat

100% Custom No Kragle Hat
Black hat with velcro in back to adjust easily – No Kragle is stitched embroidery





3. LEGO Accessories

BrickForge is a leader in the LEGO accessory market and they designed this CUSTOM EXCLUSIVE BRICK LOOT Crate and Weapons pack for us!
Finally- storage that really works!  BrickForge Crates are stackable and buildable.  Each crate can fully connect to standard baseplates and the crate base interior is lined with 6 standard 4.89 mm connection points.
Includes: Crate Base, Custom Lid & accessories.
This was printed as a ONE TIME exclusive and will not be printed again! Get them while they last!



LEGO 1561 Lufthansa Flight Crew – New in box!

The 1561 Lufthansa Flight Crew is a Building Set with People released in 1976. It contained 61 pieces to build three Homemaker Figures and their accessories.
This is one very hard to find set especially new in box. This was a Promotional set for Lufthansa Airlines and was only released in Germany.


The best gift you can give that keeps on giving after all the presents are opened!
A 6 month subscription to Brick Loot will make you the WINNER in your LEGO fans mind. Surprise boxes every month full of custom LEGO kits, mionifigures, lights and more.




http://www.brickloot.com has everything you need this holiday season! LEGO sets, Subscription boxes, toy bricks, Minifigures, Exclusive LEGO kits and more.

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Trick or Treating Times in Chicago

Check out the times for trick or treating in your neighborhood!


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Trick or Treat Tips for Parents: Halloween Safety Rules for Parents, Kids and Their Caregivers

In many communities, Trick or Treating occurs right after school, a sweet proposition for kids who can’t wait to don their costumes. But for parents, this safety-conscious trend may strike a sour note.

Many, if not most, working moms and dads simply can’t get home early enough to supervise and otherwise take part in the fun. But that doesn’t mean you can’t establish important ground rules for the nanny, babysitter, or grandparent who will be responsibility for your little ghost or goblin.

7 Halloween Safety Tips for Parents to Share with Caregivers

Talk to your kids about Halloween safety. We’re always filling our kids with information intended to keep them safe, and Halloween should be no exception. Instead of simply saying, “Be safe” call out certain things your kids should look for like lights (see # 5) and explain why these Halloween safety rules are particularly important, especially on a night where faces may be obscured by masks or face paint (a better choice from a safety perspective).

Keep your yard safe. Make sure your own yard is free of any debris or other objects such as broken lawn equipment (or furniture) so that no one trips and consider battery-powered lanterns versus candles, since those can pose a fire hazard. Keep the front door area well lit, too.

Dump the candy. No, we don’t mean toss it in the trash. Just make sure an adult has sifted through and inspected the coveted loot. It’s a great opportunity for kids to actually see what they’ve collected (and give the grown-up a piece or two as well!). Check for anything that seems out of the ordinary, including unpackaged popcorn, fruit, and other unsealed foods.

Walk, don’t run. Whether your children will be traveling along sidewalks or by the side of the road (we recommend sidewalks whenever possible), it’s always advisable for everyone to walk. Even though Trick or Treating begins during daylight, chances are that the festivities will end at dusk or later. Ghosts and goblins are easier to keep track of when they’re walking. And be sure to cross at street corners.

Carry a flashlight. Keep a flashlight handy to illuminate the way and while we’re on the subject, stick only to the houses with lights on outside (and ideally the homes of people you and your kids know).

Watch for cars. In the spirit of the night, kids sometimes forget that not everyone goes Trick or Treating. And unfortunately drivers don’t always remember that IT’S A BIG NIGHT that requires extra care.

Set expectations. Make sure you let everyone know how late the kids can be out and how much candy they can consume before heading to bed for the night. (And make sure all the kids brush their teeth!)

Written by: Erin Krex
Published on:

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First Class Care is honored to WIN Chicago Magazine’s BEST Nanny Agent Award


August 2015 Chicago Magazine’s Best of Chicago Issue
The Professional Sports Wives Association says that this nine-year-old company is the best place to turn for highly vetted nannies. Only 3 percent of recruits make it through the interview process, an acceptance rate that’s more competitive than Harvard’s. They’ll do it all: grocery shopping, your kids’ laundry, and, of course, the basics of feeding and bathing. Placement fees start at $1,500 for a full-timer.


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Tips to Get Organized for School!

Many families have trouble staying organized in today’s busy lifestyle. When parents work and multiple people are in charge of running a house, it is essential to be HIGHLY organized. An organized family helps children concentrate and spend time on school rather than where they left the other shoe.

1. Prepare for changes. When families are in a laid back schedule from summer it is hard to one day just wake up and be ready for the first day of school. Instead, try waking up on the new schedule 1-2 weeks prior to school starting to get into the new routine.

2. Clean out your closets. When school starts it is hard to find time to do much. So before school starts clean out your closets of any outgrown or worn out clothes. This will make it easier for your kids to pick out their own outfits for the next day.   3. Create a calendar with space for each family member to list appointments, activities, homework assignments and reminders. Keep it in an open area like the kitchen.

4. Preparing what your kids will need for the next day is crucial. Lay out clothes, pack lunches, and have backpacks packed the night before.

5. Color Coordinate so each child has a specific color for all binders, backpacks and supplies.

6. Keep a dry erase board so all family members can write down items needed from the grocery store, dry cleaners, or school supply store and then one person can get everything in one trip.

7. Designate a study space. It is best to have a study location that is neat, has all the necessary supplies, and will allow children to concentrate on homework.

8. Keep important phone numbers in a binder. If you have numbers for doctor’s, workers, teachers, etc. in one place, everyone can find what they need quickly.

9. Open communication. Make sure everyone knows what is expected of them and what needs to get done each day. If you have a last minute request, have a place where you know everyone will look. Leave them a note and they will be able to complete the task.   If you use even a few of these tips to stay organized your family will have more time to play and have fun together. More fun means less stress.

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The After-School Childcare Dilemma

For millions of families across the country the after school childcare dilemma is something parents dread on a daily basis. What are the kids going to do after school until we can get home from work? Do we find an after school program? A babysitter? A nanny? A neighbor?  Why is this such a constant area of stress?

Owners Erin and Steve Krex of First Class Care, a domestic placement agency and After School Sitters, an online resource have figured out 3 great options that could suit any family’s needs!

What are the options of childcare for older kids?

Option 1: Full Time Nanny Manager
A full time Nanny Manager duties include childcare, light housekeeping, organizing, laundry, errands, grocery shopping, schedule appointments, light cooking, manage any household vendors, driving kids to activities and help with homework.  This option offers parents full flexibility of having full time help  when the kids are sick or off of school.

Option 2: Full Time Housekeeper / Nanny:
A full time Housekeeper Nanny duties include full cleaning, childcare for school age kids, organizing, laundry, errands, light cooking, and driving kids. This option offers parents the same full flexibility so when the kids are sick or have a day off of school you have someone to care for them as well as have full cleaning of your home completed while the kids are in school.

Option 3: After School Sitter:
Hiring an after school sitter is a great option if you truly only want to  hire someone part time for the hours you need. Typically the type of candidate this will be is a collage or high school student who has after noons free. Professional nannies usually do not want just afternoon hours so finding someone with a flexible schedule like a student is key. The duties of an after school sitter are usually pick up the kids form school, driving to activities, homework help and possible meal prep.

How do I find the option I am looking for?
For option 1 and 2:
If you try to hire someone directly, it’s very time consuming and tough to find the right fit. You must go through the process of checking each candidate’s references, experience, performing background checks, etc. It is an arduous task to sort through all the applicants. By going through a professional agency like First Class Care, a parent knows that each applicant has already been carefully screened, interviewed and reference-checked. First Class Care accepts less than 3% of applicants. They send only the best matches for your job. First Class Care takes care of the interview scheduling as well as provide ongoing support during and after the placement.

For option 3:
Using a website like www.afterschoolsitters is a great resource as the site is very specific to your needs. Although the candidates are not fully screened, the site gives you all the tools to be successful or you can use First Class Care’s a la carte services help you out.

Tip for Parents:
If you want to go through a search try to allow at least 2 – 4 weeks for the process. Hundreds of great candidates are available, but you need to have the time to interview, which for working parents is usually only in the evening or weekends. To prepare yourself for your search make a list of expectations, duties and schedule. Use the tools provided to you to help with interview questions, contracts and reviews. Communication is the key to any domestic relationship!


By: Erin Krex
President of First Class Care, Inc.

President of After School Sitters

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Managing Food Allergies at Camp

Food allergies can be life-threatening. In any camp setting: day camps, residential camps, sports camps, or travel camps the risk of accidental exposure to a food allergen is present.

Camp staff, physicians, parents, and campers themselves must work together to minimize the risk. There must also be medications and procedures in place to deal with accidental ingestion or contact.

Family Responsibility

Choose an appropriate camp for the child. Find out the following:

  • Who is the primary healthcare person and what are their credentials? Who is responsible for their duties in this person’s absence?
  • How does camp communicate and monitor food allergy information? Is this sufficient for your child?
  • How far is the camp from a medical treatment center?
  • What trips might the camper take that change the response time?
  • Do travel personnel have sufficient medication to provide a margin of safety?
  • What limits a camp’s ability to care for your child?

Notify the camp of the camper’s allergies or suspected allergies.

  • Use the camp application and/or health form to fully describe the allergy. Use the FARE Food Allergy Action Plan. List foods to which the camper is allergic, and the specific symptoms of the child’s typical allergic reaction.
  • Inform the camp director of the allergy early in the process so that appropriate personnel can be hired or instructed on proper approach to the camper with food allergy.

Make personal contact with the director, counselor, or the division supervisor before the camper’s arrival at the facility.

  • Make certain that the camp director notifies all affected personnel. Life guards, transportation drivers, dining hall/cafeteria workers, camp nurses, counselors, specialty area workers, and anyone else who may offer food or plan parties or events all need to be informed of the allergy. Additionally, camps may use volunteers who may only come to camp one or two days during the week. These individuals will also need to understand the camp’s food allergy policy.

Provide the camp with a recent photo of the child, attached to written instructions, medical documentation, and medications as prescribed by the physician for managing an allergic reaction.

  • Do not simply transfer school documentation; camp is different from school.
  • The specific camp personnel need to be authorized and instructed on how to proceed.
  • The camp may have an Allergy Action Plan, OR use the FARE Food Allergy Action Plan.

Check the expiration date of all medications.

  • Be prepared to replace any expired or unsealed, previously used medication. Review with camp director and nurse the location and storage of medications. Given the remote location of many camps, provide an adequate supply of epinephrine, if prescribed.

Educate the camper and review often the self-management of his or her food allergy. The camper should know:

  • Safe and unsafe foods;
  • Strategies for avoiding exposure to unsafe foods;
  • Symptoms of allergic reactions;
  • How and when to tell an adult about a possible allergic response;
  • How to read a food label (e.g. at the camp candy store), if age appropriate. For young campers, plan with camp how to handle this.
  • How to use epinephrine.

Camper Responsibility

Camper should:

  • NEVER trade food with other campers.
  • Not eat anything with unknown ingredients.
  • Read every label and check with a counselor (if age appropriate).
  • Be proactive in the management of mild reactions, such as seeking help if a reaction is suspected.
  • Tell an adult if a reaction seems to be starting, even if there is no visible appearance of allergic response.
  • NOT go off alone if symptoms are beginning.

Camp Responsibility

Be informed of the availability of emergency care.

  • Know: How to contact EMT/ambulance;
  • How much time is needed for an emergency crew to arrive;
  • How far it is to the nearest hospital;
  • If the hospital has an M.D. present at all times.
  • Camps located in non-urban settings must understand that rural ambulance and emergency crews may be volunteers. Therefore, additional plans and additional medications may be required.
  • On trips away from the campsite, a communication device (i.e., cell phone, 2-way radio) should be carried.

Review the health records submitted by parents and physicians.

Establish prevention protocols for your camp.

  • Make plans so that the camper with food allergies may be safely included in all activities.
  • Be certain that all food service or kitchen personnel are aware of, and can identify the child with food allergies.
  • Discuss meal plans with parents/camper and alternative plans if necessary.
  • Plan how a camper with food allergies will participate in meals. For example, a camper with food allergies might go first in a buffet line and at other food-related events to avoid cross-contact, or might need a place to sit apart in a special allergen-free space.

Assure that all who will be in contact with camper know of the allergy, can recognize the symptoms of an allergic reaction, and know what action to take if a reaction occurs.

Maintain an appropriate sense of confidentiality and respect for individual privacy.

Identify the camp core emergency response team. This should include, but not be limited to appropriate staff.

  • Arrange to have this team meet with parents and camper prior to the opening activity, on or before the first day of camper’s participation.
  • Assure that the nurse has the required authorizations and appropriate medications to use in the event of unintentional contact.

Assure that appropriate personnel are familiar with the use of epinephrine, where medication is located, and the protocol.

  • Arrange a training session before the start of camp. Allow participants to become familiar with the usage of epinephrine auto-injectors.
  • Be in compliance with local and state regulations regarding the administration of medication.

If there are planned field trips or out of camp activities:

  • Be certain any emergency medications and authorizations accompany the camper and the counselor.
  • Be certain there is a way to contact emergency assistance.

Medications must be stored at the correct temperature range. Be certain that travel personnel understand the importance of this. Some medications become ineffective if exposed to temperature extremes (heat or cold). Refer to the manufacturer’s instructions for proper storage.

Food Allergy Research & Education can be contacted at: 800-929-4040 or info@foodallergy.org.

These guidelines were developed with input from the following:

Helen Rebull, R.N., Congressional Schools of Virginia Association of Camp Nurses Food Allergy Research & Education




Here are a few products to help keep your kids safe at camp with food allergies!


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National Nanny Training Day Chicago! April 18th

First Class Care, Inc. is excited to be a Chicago sponsor of National Nanny Training Day! We are having a full day of training featuring several amazing speakers in a variety of categories to help you increase your skills.

Along with all 6 great training sessions, we will have raffle prizes, goodie bags and an amazing lunch provided by First Class Care and our sponsors. You will go home with a certificate indicating your participation in National Nanny Training Day 2015.

All Chicago nannies, Wisconsin Nannies, Indiana Nannies and other childcare providers are welcome!


8:30am – Check in
9:00am – Newborn-Age 2, A Journey Through Milestones and Red Flags
10:00am – Helping Kids Listen/Listening So You Can Help the Kids
11:00am – Babywearing

Noon – Buffet Lunch provided by First Class Care and our Sponsors

1:00pm – The Nanny’s Role as an Educator – Part 1
2:00pm – The Nanny’s Role as an Educator – Part 2
3:00pm – Helping to Strengthen the Parent Child Bond


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IRS Announces 2015 Standard Mileage Rates

It will cost you less at the pump to fill your car next year. The U.S. Department of Energy has issued its predictions for the price of gasoline for 2015 and the numbers are the lowest full-year average since 2009. Gas prices are expected to drop 35 cents to $2.60 a gallon.

The news is even better for the holidays: according to AAA, the national average price for regular unleaded gasoline could bottom out at $2.50 by Christmas. Average costs across the country are dropping from week to week: as of today, they are just $2.67 per gallon, the least expensive since February 23, 2010.

Despite those tumbles, the standard mileage rate for federal income taxes is going up for business miles. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has issued the 2015 optional standard mileage rates and beginning on January 1, 2015, the standard mileage rates for the use of a car, van, pickup or panel truck will be:

  • 57.5 cents per mile for business miles driven (up from 56 cents in 2014)
  • 23 cents per mile driven for medical or moving purposes (down half a cent from 2014)
  • 14 cents per mile driven in service of charitable organizations (fixed by Congress, never adjusted for inflation)

If you’re wondering about the difference in the rates for business and medical or moving purposes, there’s a reason: the standard mileage rate for business is calculated using an annual study of the fixed and variable costs of operating an automobile, including depreciation, insurance, repairs, tires, maintenance, gas and oil while the rate for medical and moving purposes is based on the variable costs, such as gas and oil. That also explains why the rate for medical or moving purposes has dipped while the rate for business has gone up. Inflation is edging costs – other than gas – up a tiny bit.

The optional standard mileage rates are used to easily calculate the amount of a deductible business, moving, medical or charitable expense (miles driven times the applicable rate). Taxpayers always have the option of deducting their actual costs rather than using the standard mileage rates – though admittedly, that’s a lot more work.

Be careful: these rates go into effect at the beginning of 2015 for the 2015 calendar year. That means they’ll show up on your 2015 returns (the ones you’ll file in 2016). You’ll use the 2014 rates for the return that you’ll submit in 2015.


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