Should You Tip Your Nanny? How Much? How Often?

tippingEveryone’s seen the commercial of the couple returning from a romantic night out to their moustache’d daughter greeting them in French, pastels and a tinfoil Eiffel Tower to boot. They look on lovingly while tapping out a quick “Merci” and electronic tip to their caregiver. Charming, n’est-ce pas?

However, the world of gratuities can be a murky place to wade into when you are in a full-time nanny/employer relationship. Here are a few things to consider before lightening that wallet.

Household Duties

Unless it is part of your employment agreement or a stated element of the job when hiring, nannies are generally not expected to act as housekeepers. However, sometimes things might be particularly busy at work, or you might have days where you leave in a rush without leaving so much as clean spoon for the nanny to use. If this is an occasional thing and she is helping you out in a bind, a tip will be appreciated. If you have a tight budget and you’re not interested in encouraging an ongoing additional financial mini-hit – and don’t want to reach that awkward point where she does the work unasked for and you decline to acknowledge it with a tip – thank her with the tip and apologize/assure her it was a one-time occurrence.

If the extra hand around the house is welcome and you just hadn’t wanted to turn her off or presume she would be up for it during the delicate nanny hiring process, sit down with your nanny and work out the details of what and when things should be done and come to an agreeable rate. If you have a nanny, you should be legally paying her for her service and you don’t want to run afoul of any tax laws by appearing to be paying partially under the table if the duties become standard. There also might be financial benefits within the tax deduction realm you don’t want to miss by paying out more than you claim.

How Much?

This is subjective, to some degree, but you don’t want your tip to backfire and appear unappreciative. If it’s just an occasional act of her having to take the initiative to pluck the dead leaves and water the houseplants or take your child to the further away park that has the “good slide”, you might consider a small token of appreciation, such as picking up the nanny’s favorite muffin or magazine. If the extra touch is truly nominal (worthy of $2-3), but regularly occurring – if she regularly makes your older child’s lunch for the following day – and you want to acknowledge it, consider adding a little extra bonus to the end of the week.

A day involving any sort of illness with the kids is grounds for a bonus. The worse the sickness, the bigger the tip, including some thought as to whether extra laundry was involved and the likelihood that she might have put her own health at risk in caring for your child. A day covering you as chaperone to a field trip or if a little friend needs to be supervised during a pre-planned hour and a half playdate (in both cases, with her preapproval) could be worth an extra $20. A stop at the market for the shopping your late meeting won’t allow or shifting the furniture to vacuum the entire floor instead of just the area around the play table and highchair might be worth an extra $10.

A teething baby, an inadvertent spill that required a carpet shampoo effort, an assisted homemade birthday card in your honor, your preschooler reporting back that nanny crawled to the top of the tubes course 27 times – these are all judgment calls, but remember the goal is to keep these gem caretakers happy (and in your home!).

How often?

An occasional tip is great. It shows you recognize your nanny for the value she brings to your family and your child’s happiness with her willingness to go above and beyond. But it can become awkward when it starts to feel less voluntary and more like an obligation, so tipping every few weeks (when applicable) is a nice timeframe to avoid setting any expectations.

If your nanny is doing so many wonderful things on a consistent basis that you find yourself regularly reaching for your wallet with a smile, it may be time to set a higher standard on both sides. Thank her for her proactive services and let her know the many thoughtful things she does are noted and deserve to be acknowledged in a more formal way by giving her a raise. If your budget is too tight to create a worthy jump in pay, consider adding in some perks, like adding your nanny to your family’s health club membership, to add value to her compensation. Including a handwritten note mentioning a few of her little actions and what they mean in a card, along with the raise, will encourage loyalty and ensure she feels appreciated and knows how important she is to your family.

20 Reasons Kids Benefit from Nanny Care

nannycareWhen both parents work and are forced to find competent care for their children, it becomes necessary to not only make the appropriate arrangements but also to decide between center-based care and the attentions of a private, in-home childcare provider to determine which is best for your family as a whole. Before you pick up the phone to enroll your bundle of joy in the nearest daycare center, take the time to consider the impact of these 20 benefits nanny care has on kids.

  • Individual Attention – Provider to child ratios in daycare can’t beat those that come with nanny care. When a provider is responsible for a room full of kids, yours may not be receiving the amount of individual attention they need and you desire. Because a nanny is responsible only for your children, it’s easier for her to ensure that they’re getting plenty of personalized and attentive care.
  • Closer Supervision – When there are four adults looking after 20 children in a room, there’s bound to be a bit of a lapse in supervision from time to time. A nanny is able to watch kids more carefully and she’s never assuming that someone else is watching the kids.
  • Caregiver Bonding – High turnover rates, room graduations and other changes at a daycare center can make it difficult for your child to bond with his caregiver. Being looked after by one nanny, however, allows him plenty of time to form bonds and learn to trust his nanny.
  • Routine and Reliability – Kids thrive under a reliable routine, which is something a nanny can provide in a way that large, hectic daycare centers simply can’t compete with.
  • Low-Stress Care Transition – Taking your child to daycare means waking him up early, rushing him to get ready and taking him out into the elements. When you pick him up, he’s stuck in traffic alongside you when he’s tired, hungry and ready to be home. Working with a nanny, however, allows you to simply leave in the morning and return in the evening, sparing your child the stress of a commute.
  • Familiar Settings – Being able to spend the day in his own home, with his own toys and comfort objects, spares your child from the uncertainty and anxiety that can come when he’s left in a loud, unfamiliar one at a daycare center.
  • Lower Germ Exposure – Kids who are cared for by a nanny may pick up the occasional cold through play dates, but they’re not consistently exposed to the same level of germs that they’d encounter in a daycare center.
  • Education and Certifications – When you choose a nanny for your child, you’re in control of ensuring that she has the certifications and education level that you want for your little one. In a daycare center setting, you’re essentially stuck with the people the administrators have chosen to hire.
  • Sick Child Care – You will not be able to leave a sick child at daycare, which means that days when he’s sick can be even more stressful for your child as you scramble for alternatives. A nanny, however, will generally provide sick child services, maintaining the routine he’s used to at a time when he’s uncomfortable and unhappy.
  • Development at Her Own Schedule – Your child may be forced to give up a favorite comfort object, make the transition to solid food or start potty training before she’s ready to at a daycare center with strict policies. Because you will be able to control the timeline through your nanny, your child will be able to develop at her own pace under a nanny’s care.
  • Consistent Rules and Guidance – Daycare center workers quit or move to other rooms, and each childcare provider is different in such a setting. That means that your child may not be exposed to clear and consistent boundaries, or that she may be expected to follow rules far different from those you would choose for her. That’s not the case with a nanny, who will work with you to develop a plan and stick to it for the sake of consistency.
  • Limiting Exposure to Questionable Influences – You can choose the daycare center your children attend, but you can’t choose the peers that they’ll encounter there or the providers who will be looking after them. When your child is looked after by a nanny, you know that she’s not being exposed to questionable influences.
  • More Financial Security – When parents are less stressed, it affects kids in very real ways. Daycare can actually be more expensive than nanny care when you have more than one child needing care, which can leave the family strapped for cash and can negatively affect the kids.
  • Easier Parental Oversight – The amount of control you have over the practices of a daycare is limited, which is not the case when you hire a nanny. Your kids will benefit from your ability to control their care experience, rather than being subjected to the whims of daycare workers and administrators.
  • Specialized Skill Sets and Training – If you want your children to learn French while they’re being watched by a nanny, you can hire a bilingual nanny. Budding musicians can take lessons from a nanny who’s musically inclined. There are a variety of specialized skill sets available through nanny care, which is almost never the case at even the best daycare centers.
  • Sibling Bonding – Unless your children are very close in age, there’s a good chance that they’ll be separated into different groups at daycare. When they’re home all day with a nanny, they’re also spending time with one another and bonding in a way that might be more difficult if they were in separate rooms at a daycare center.
  • Milestone Assistance – A private, in-home childcare provider can help your little one reach important milestones like talking, walking or potty training on a level that simply can’t be replicated in a boisterous, hectic daycare center.
  • Controlled Socialization – When your nanny takes your child on play dates, you know who he’s spending time with and can ensure that your nanny is looking for signs of over-stimulation. At a daycare center, he will be constantly surrounded by dozens of other children, with no way to remove himself from an over-stimulating situation.
  • Special Needs Care – Kids with special needs require more attention than even the best daycare center can provide. That’s one of the areas where specially trained nannies shine, ensuring that your child is looked after in just the way she needs to thrive.
  • Allergen and Food Sensitivity Awareness – When there are dozens of kids to feed, concerns about allergy information can fall to the wayside or be disregarded. If one food allergy isn’t properly communicated, your child could be affected. A nanny who cares for your child every day, however, knows what foods and triggers are off limits and how to manage allergies or sensitivities.

Why Kids Cheat and How to Deal With It

cheatingFrom peeking at someone else’s cards during a game of “Go Fish!” to copying answers on a test as an adolescent, the stark reality is that some children cheat. Everything from peer pressure and fear to the available means to take the easy way out, along with a variety of other factors, can cause children to cheat.

“In some cases, children cheat because they can,” says Dr. Rick Capaldi, California-based psychologist and co-founder of Outreach Concern, a non-profit school-based counseling agency. “Children are going to cheat because it’s an easier alternative then to invest time and effort, such as studying for exams or doing homework. It’s easier to cheat to be successful,” he says.

Uncovering the causes and the reasoning behind these actions is the first step to eliminate cheating all together, at home or at school.

Why Do Kids Cheat?

A young child is often told that cheating is wrong, but many adults don’t understand that kids don’t always know how to define cheating. Is it stealing? Is borrowing ok? Offering a clear definition of what cheating consists of can help clear up any confusion.

According to Lisa Share, coordinator for the early childhood education programs at Walden University, cheating can include copying from a classmate, pulling information directly from the Internet and passing it off as your own, allowing someone else to complete the work or looking at resources that are restricted during test and homework time. Provide your kids with examples to help them define cheating.

Kids cheat in the way they play, too, says Capaldi. “Whether it’s at sports or friendly games of competition, they want to win,” he says. “Ironically, they also cheat at relationships, something they carry with them well into their adult years.”

What prompts kids to cheat can vary, says Share. Older children, especially, may cheat for many of the following reasons:

  • Disengaged with the curriculum or teacher
  • Lack of time due to after school activities
  • Fearful of the stakes attached to doing poorly
  • Receiving pressure from family or teachers
  • Peer pressure
  • Exhaustion or poor sleep habits
  • Enjoyment of the challenge
  • Self-pressure to do well

Self-pressure is one of the most common reasons why pre-teens and teens succumb to cheating, says Ben Bernstein, California-based psychologist and author of “A Teen’s Guide to Success and Test Success.” Teens are under a lot of pressure from parents, peers, teachers and society to succeed, he says. “Pressure brings on anxiety and they are anxious that they will fail, they won’t get into a good college or that their elders will be angry if they get less-than-stellar grades,” he says. “Cheating is a shortcut – a quick, pressure-release valve.”

How to Derail Cheating

When your child is caught cheating, it’s important to take a hands-on, direct approach to change the behavior and help him or her understand the significance of the action. How you approach the situation, though, is crucial, says Debbey Thomas, coordinator of the Richard W. Riley College of Education and Leadership at Walden University. “It is my recommendation for parents not to holler, scream, spank or harshly chastise students who cheat,” she says. “Parents should first take time to sit down with their child to find out if there was not enough time to study, if the material was too hard, or if they were just goofing off.”

Outline and enforce consequences for cheating, too. “This should be something that matters to the child,” says Bernstein, “such as the loss of computer privileges, curtailing social activities or stopping a weekly allowance.”

Once your child and you have absorbed what has happened and the consequences, have a discussion about why your child chose to cheat. “Talk about the pressures and the anxiety she may be experiencing,” says Bernstein. “Cheating is not acceptable but the reasons for it need to be understood and addressed so that in the future your child can deal with the pressure and anxiety differently.”

To deter cheating, serve as the example, too. Cheating begins at home, says Cipaldi. “Parents, guardians and family influencers need to instill good values in their children; stressing the fact that winning is not as important as fair play and good sportsmanship,” he says. “Succeeding inside and outside of school is done by putting in the footwork, whether its practice at a sport or game or getting good grades by investing time in studying and doing homework.”

It’s imperative that parents instill in their children the real value of achieving success through good old-fashioned hard work, says Cipaldi.