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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By: Erin Krex
Owner of First Class Care
Article was published in NPN magazine

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My Child’s Sensory Needs


All children perceive and process sensory information in different ways. Some children find loud noises scary, while others like to bang objects and search for interesting ways to create noise. Similarly, some children may only tolerate certain fabrics or textures for clothing, while others may enjoy rolling around in the grass, sand, or on the carpet. While most adults have learned to adapt to their specific needs, some children need guidance in processing sensory information to blossom and reach their full potential at school, at home, and while playing with peers.

How do I know my child’s sensory need?
· Can your child focus on an activity even if there’s background noise?
· Does your child jump from one activity to another, never fully being able to complete a task?
· Does your child respond negatively to loud noises, or often covers their ears?
· Is your child always seeking high movement activities, but often appears clumsy and falls a lot? · Does your child show a strong preference for certain foods or smells?
· Is your child irritated by shoes and socks, or different textures?

Children with sensory difficulties are either over-responsive or under-responsive to things they experience in their daily lives. Your child may be oversensitive to strange noises, but may also be under-sensitive to high movement activities or enjoy being dizzy. While each child is a unique individual, their sensory needs are as well.

What are some fun activities I could try?
1) Tug of war
2) Plastic Bag Kite – cut a string about 3 yards long and attach it to the handles of the bag. Staple colored streamers for decoration on the bottom. Run against the wind to keep the bag afloat.
3) Simon Says – this is a classic but teaches children spatial awareness and body positioning. Try to incorporate words like ‘on top’, ‘underneath’, ‘behind’. For example, “Simon says put your right hand under a couch cushion.”

How do I know if my child needs more help?
Children displaying in of the following characteristics would benefit from support provided by an occupational therapists.
· Under- or Over-sensitivity to touch, movement, sights, or sounds
· Tendency to be easily distracted
· Social and/or emotional problems
· Activity level is unusually high or low
· Physical clumsiness or apparent carelessness
· Poor fine motor coordination
· Impulsivity, lack of self-control
· Difficulty in making transitions
· Inability to unwind or calm self
· Poor self concept
· Delays in speech, language, motor skills
· Delays in daily skill performance (dressing, feeding)
· Delays in academic achievement

Suzanne Jacobs, OTD, OTR/L; holds Doctorate of Occupational Therapy and treats children at North Shore Pediatric Therapy.

NSPT specializes in Pediatric Occupational Therapy, Speech Therapy, Physical Therapy, Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA), Social Work, Behavior 911, Nutritional Counseling, Tutoring, Reading and Neuropsychology Diagnostics and Support. NSPT’s three locations include: Highland Park, Glenview and Buck-town.

To receive more information on your child’s development please call (877)486-4140.
www.NSPT4kids.com

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Nominate your nanny for 2009 First Class Care Nanny of the Year


First Class Care is accepting submissions for 2009 First Class Care Nanny of the Year. First Class Care nannies are top notch and to show them we appreciate them we are offering the 4 top nannies of 2009 a FREE INA (International Nanny Association) Membership.

Send us a brief email on why you love your First Class Care nanny and how he/she has enhanced you and your children’s lives.

Deadline: July 25, 2009

Email us: erin@firstclasscare.com

We will post nominations as we get them for everyone to see!

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Amazing Product that will help your family get MORE SLEEP!

My 5 year old son loves to wake me up at 5am. As soon as the sun comes up he is calling for me. We have tried everything from blackout shades to tin foil on the windows (yes – we actually did it). Nothing worked. I finally found an amazing product that has given me my sleep back! Every family should have one of these clocks and I hope it can help you as much as it has me:)

Teach Me Time! by American Innovative
Teach Me Time! is an adorable child’s bedside alarm clock, time-teaching tool and dual-color nightlight all in one. The collective features of this educational toy are designed to grow with your child from the day they are first out of the crib.

“Ok to Wake!” Dual-Color Nightlight TimerFor children just out of the crib, Teach Me Time! features a dual-color nightlight that turns green when it’s “Ok to wake!”

This convenient (for parents, that is) feature was inspired by homegrown solutions to the problem of young children bounding out of bed at very early hours. If you’ve ever taped over the minutes digits of an old digital alarm and instructed your son or daughter to not get up until “this number is a six”, then you’re one of many (sleep deprived?) parents who understands the need for the dual-color nightlight.

Teach Me Time’s! nightlight has flexible timer settings. You define the time that it turns on (soft yellow glow), the time that it changes color from yellow to green (“Ok to wake!”) and the time that it turns off. If desired, the color-changing option is easily disabled.

Let’s Learn To Tell Time!Teach Me Time! features an interactive, talking time-teaching game designed to help school-aged kids learn to tell time on both analog and digital clocks. The large, bright LCD display is capable of displaying the time in either format or both at once.

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Nanny Share 101

Definition: A nanny share is when two families engage the services of a single nanny to care for both families’ children.

Nanny sharing is a creative way to save money and still have a professional in home childcare provider. With child care often being the second largest monthly expense, your mortgage being the first, families find sharing a nanny to be a great solution. It is a common misconception that having a full time professional nanny is out of a family’s budget, but sharing lowers the average costs to $300-450 a week per family. Although this sounds great, it is easier said than done! Nanny Shares have many pros and cons, and only you can determine if it is the right choice for your family.

First step: Finding the right family to work with! Just like having to interview nannies you will have to interview families first. Things you need to consider:

1. Age of the children – It is probably better to have children close in age so they can play together and become friends, but think about the pros and cons of having multiple children the same or similar age or the opposite.

2. Values – How much is the other family looking to spend on a nanny? What benefits are they willing to offer? You would be surprised at how families differ on the subject.

3. Parenting Philosophy – How do you want the children disciplined? What does your child like to eat and what does their child like to eat? Does one of the children have a food allergy? What are your rules regarding television? The families must agree on these items – different rules for children being cared for together is not possible.

4. Scheduling – How often do either of the families require a nanny? If your schedules do not coordinate, how is this going to impact you? How often does each family go on vacation? How is the nanny compensated when only one family is using her? Timing is everything.

5. Activities – Do both families allow the nanny to take their children on outings to the zoo or parks? You would be surprised at how many families do not want the nanny to take the child out. You must consider how this will affect your day.

Second Step: Once you have found a possible family you would like to share a nanny with you still need to think about the following:

1. The Nanny Search – Both families should get together and write a job description, work agreement and qualities they are looking for in a nanny. They should agree on how the nanny search will be executed and determine responsibilities for each step of the way. If an agency is used: the fee amount, who pays it, and any fee-splitting arrangements should be in writing. If an agency is not being used, make sure you agree on a process for screening, background checking and reference checking. During the interview process, the nanny should have the opportunity to meet all parties before accepting the position.

2. Where will the care be given? – some families rotate; others use only one home. If care will not be given in each family’s home, consideration should be given to the wear and tear which will occur in the home where the care is given.

* Is that home maintained and clean to the satisfaction of both families?

* Is the home child proofed?

* Are there pets in the home? What care must be taken to protect all children?

* Who will be responsible for supplying the toys and replacing broken ones?

* What about meals which the children and caregiver will be eating during the day – who will provide the food and pay for it?

3. Salary – When a nanny is hired by 2 families her salary is usually higher due to the more complex situation, but when split between two families will still result in a big cost savings. Consider what happens if there are days where one family’s children are not being cared for – is the same salary to be paid or is a lower hourly rate ok? The same salary is recommended, but this must be worked out ahead of time. Families and the nanny should coordinate the withholding of payroll taxes and consult a payroll company (www.gtm.com) or accountant to find out how to handle this appropriately.

4. Benefits – What benefits will you offer your nanny? How do you plan to coordinate vacations? If the host family is vacationing, will the nanny be required to go to the other family’s home? Full time nannies expect to receive weekly pay for every week of the year, even if a family does not need her care on any particular day or week. Typical benefits include paid federal holidays and 1-2 weeks of paid vacation.

5. Illnesses – It is important to work out what happens when the children are sick. It will be possible that the sick child will be living at the home where the care is being provided that day. Will the care be given at the other home that particular day?

6. Communication – Open lines of communication are very important. Both families and the nanny should be comfortable in bringing up any issues that might arise. Make it a point to check in once a month and give regular reviews to your nanny.

7. Contracts – Both families should have a contract not only with the nanny but each other. This should cover all the details like salary, benefits etc, but also what happens if one family wants out of the share. Always discuss an exit strategy, including what the rights and obligations of each family are, when the relationship ends.

Pros:
* More personalized attention than a day care and for less money

* Additional duties can be done like light housekeeping and laundry

Cons:

* It is very difficult for two families to find a nanny they agree on

* There is the risk of being left with a nanny who was hired for a certain salary

Sharing a nanny can be the best of both worlds or more trouble than it is worth. Evaluate your personal goals and what you want to get out of your childcare provider. Can your provider meet your goals while caring for other children? After weighing the pros and cons you will be able to determine if this is the right avenue for you

First Class Care helps families find the perfect Nanny for their nanny share. We request you find your family partner first. Contact us today at 847-733-2700.
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Mom4Profit Presents: An Evening of Enrichment for your life and your work.

Wednesday May 27th, 2009 – 7PM – 10PM
Starland – 710 Robert York Avenue #D
Deerfield, IL
RSVP: mom4profit@comcast.net
Speakers:
Dr. Jeannie Aschkenasy – Licensed Clinical Psychologist
Discusses Humanizing Infertility

Natalie Harel-Yakov – Financial Advisor
Discusses: Financially Empowering Women

Riv Lynch – Professional Organizer
Discusses: It’s not about the Stuff

Rachel Rosenberg – Health and Wellness Consultant
Discusses: A pure Approach to a Healthy Lifestyle

EVENT IS OPEN TO THE PUBLIC!

** Mom4Profit is a network of working mothers who run their own businesses. We share ideas and help promote each other.

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First Class Care Goes to Dallas for INA

Every year First Class Care attends the INA (International Nanny Association – http://www.nanny.org/) conference. We love learning how to continually improve our business plus networking with old and new friends. THINK BIG was 2009’s conference theme and it was held in Dallas, Texas. Steve and I took workshops on such things as Marketing to Moms, How to Grow your Business, Networking sites as a tool and more. Conference is always an inspiration to think of new and creative ideas on how to make our clients LOVE us even more. A major part of conference is networking. We meet agency owners from around the country to share ideas, strategies, tools and experiences. The common goal is to make everyone in the industry be the best they can be. Just being an INA member is not enough, you must be involved to make it work for you. First Class Care is an active member, Board Member and recruiter for the INA. We are proud to be the only Chicago Nanny Agency that can say this!
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Support us in the 2009 StartupNation Leading Moms in Business Competition

Support us in the 2009 StartupNation Leading Moms in Business Competition

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NEXT FAMILY VACATION–PACK YOUR SUN TAN LOTION–AND YOUR NANNY

Whether it’s for a ski trip to Colorado or building sand castles on the beach in Mexico, having a nanny along to help with the children means that parents can relax and enjoy the trip as a family and as a couple. Taking your nanny on vacation is well worth the investment in that extra set of hands, eyes, and ears when travelling with small children.

Any trip with young children can be stressful. Extra work and extra responsibilities can cut into the limited time available to do “fun” things. But with the right kind of planning, you can still have the best of both worlds–fun with the whole family plus some relaxing together time. There can be time for a romantic dinner, a late night stroll, or time for a quiet “adult” conversation–just what a couple needs.

SOME THINGS TO CONSIDER WHEN TRAVELLING WITH YOUR NANNY

PREPARATION: Ask your nanny well ahead of time. Although you may be going to a wonderful place, not all nannies like to travel with their families. Give them adequate time to prepare AND give yourself plenty of time to get a replacement if they decline.

DISCUSS THE DETAILS: Do discuss the details of the trip. Discuss when you will leave and return. Discuss the nanny’s duties while away. Discuss the compensation and accommodations. This is YOUR vacation, not the nanny’s. In fact, travelling with the family requires extra work by the nanny. Keeping kids occupied on the plane or in the car and in strange places is harder than at home. Explain what the schedule is likely to be–travel, activities, time off, hours, extra demands. The schedule is likely to be very different than at home. Parents sleeping late, family activities during the day, special activities at night–all may require that the nanny start earlier, end later, and/or take time off in the middle of the day. Additional compensation should be discussed for the extra duties and longer days. Most nannies receive between $200 and $275 per day to compensate them for the extra duties, different hours, and disruption of their own lives. Ideally, the nanny should have her own room but if that’s not possible, that should also be discussed in advance.

ADDITIONAL COSTS: When the nanny travels with the family, the family is responsible for the nanny’s travel expenses–airfare, hotel, meals, tickets to special attractions like amusement parks, movies, concerts, or other admission fees.

There are several “pros and cons” of taking your nanny on your trip. But the added expense usually means a much more enjoyable, less stressful trip for everyone. Those families who have taken their nanny’s along, often say that they will “never again leave home without her.”

**If your nanny is not able to travel with you, call First Class Care and arrange for a TRAVELING NANNY. We have many terrific nannies who are experienced at traveling with families, know what to expect, and know just how to make your trip a memorable, positive experience.

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What is a Nanny?

The word Nanny is defined in the dictionary as: a person, usually with special training, employed to care for children in a household.
In our everyday lives this word is used in many ways and thought of as many different things. A typical nanny is responsible for everything pertaining to the children. A nanny should be willing to do any and all household activities related to his/her charges, including cleaning their rooms, doing their laundry, entertaining them, disciplining them, teaching them proper manners and caring for them when they are sick. A nanny is a partner with the parents to help raise their charges to be responsible, competent young men and women. A nanny must want to be a child’s best friend and encourage them to do their best.
Many nannies are willing to do other household duties, including family laundry and light housework, but their priority will always be to care for the children. If they do accept these responsibilities they will be expecting to be compensated accordingly. Parents should understand that children are the most important part of the job. If the nanny is engaging the children with fun activities, then maybe the laundry waits to get folded until the next day. Families are cautioned to be realistic in the amount of additional work they ask the nanny to perform. When you are searching for a nanny you should create a duty list that has every possible duty you would want your nanny to perform. This will make sure you and your nanny are on the same page from the start and no surprises occur. You always want to be open and honest about your expectations.

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