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Archive for May, 2012

10 Reasons Parents Choose Private Schools for Their Kids

Thursday, May 31st, 2012

In the realm of parenting, few decisions hold as much importance as those regarding your child’s education. From the moment they walk through the door of their very first classroom, children begin to learn the study habits and work ethic that will shape the rest of their lives. For some parents, a private education over a public one is non-negotiable; here are ten of the reasons why:

  1. Poorly Performing Public Schools – In some areas of the United States, public schools are performing so poorly that graduates simply aren’t prepared for the rigors of college and thus opt to enter the workforce directly after high school or even to drop out. For some parents, this is a significant motivating factor in the decision to send kids to private school instead.
  2. Smaller Class Sizes – Hiding at the back of a small, private classroom is markedly more difficult than being lost in the shuffle of a sprawling public school. These smaller class sizes and the availability of more one-on-one instruction are one of the most popular reasons parents opt for a private education.
  3. Religious Education – Parents who are invested in the idea of a religious education often choose a private school connected to their faith in order to ensure that the same values they hold at home are instilled in their children during study hours. Because religion must be kept out of public schools, devout moms and dads might choose a more private, faith-based education.
  4. To Improve Academic Performance – In many cases, teacher-to-student ratio in a private school is just what a student who’s struggling to keep up in larger public classes needs. Curriculum and special programs in private schools can be vastly different from their public brethren, helping kids with diverse learning styles learn in a way that’s tailored to their specific needs.
  5. To Take an Active Role in Education – Most private schools have high expectations regarding parental involvement, which can be quite different from the hands-off policy adopted by public institutions. Parents with the desire and the time to become an active part of their kids’ education may find that a private school is more suited to that involvement.
  6. Higher Accountability – In a struggling public school, administrators might be more invested in high standardized test scores than keeping kids accountable for their day-to-day coursework. Because many public schools are exempt from government-mandated standardized tests, kids are actively taught rather than simply helped to memorize testing material.
  7. Sports Programs – Many private schools have strong athletic programs, making them an ideal choice for sports-minded kids. Parents that are invested in developing their child’s athletic potential often choose a private school as a result.
  8. Emphasis on Arts and Music Programs – State education budgets are being slashed across the country, leaving arts and music programs on the chopping block. In some districts, these programs have already been discontinued, leaving parents of budding artists and musicians to seek private options for their talented offspring.
  9. University Preparation – Studies have indicated that a privately-educated child is twice as likely to continue to college as those that attend public school, and also more likely to complete a university program after enrolling. Because most private schools place a high importance on preparing kids for college, they might be a better choice for some families.
  10. Safety Concerns – While it’s certainly not true that all public schools are dangerous, or even that all private ones are safe, there are areas in the country where a public school might have a higher risk of violence, truancy and other concerns. Parents in these areas generally choose to privately educate their child if it’s even remotely financially feasible.

As is true with many far-reaching decisions, there are no one-size-fits-all options. Some families find that private school is more suited to their individual needs, while others may feel that a public education is a better fit. By carefully considering all options, you can make the choice that best benefits the needs of your child as an individual.

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10 Treats Every Sitter Should Carry with Them

Thursday, May 24th, 2012

Every occupation has its own tools of the trade; indispensable items that make the job easier. Babysitting is no exception. There are certain things that a sitter should have at her disposal wherever she goes. For instance, it’s always a good idea for a babysitter to carry a variety of treats that cover any situation. We’ll share with you a list of ten treats every sitter should keep handy:

  1. Lollipops – A universally loved treat for kids that can help calm a cranky child, or serve as a bribe when you need a little help getting the little ones to behave. Kids have been known to do just about anything they’re told for a lollipop. In fact they’re suckers for suckers.
  2. Chewing Gum – It’s good to have some gum for yourself on hand, when you’ve got a long night of sitting ahead of you and want to have a bit of flavor between the more filling snacks, or if there isn’t much else on hand to munch on.
  3. Cough Drops – They’ll serve a similar purpose as chewing gum, but with the added benefit of providing some medicinal aid as well. If you’ve got a nagging cough, it makes it more of a challenge to get the kids to sleep. Anything that will help keep the peace is a welcome thing to have at the ready.
  4. Movies – You may want to keep a small library of kids’ movies, or even some for your own entertainment, in order to help pass the time and/or keep the kids amused. Find out what the children you’re sitting like to watch, and bring along some favorites.
  5. Gummi Bears – Kids love them, and they help keep their jaws moving without having to listen to them scream. If your young charges are the over-active sorts, you can help them settle down by doling out a few of these judiciously.
  6. Pop Tarts – They’re great toasted or right out of the box, come in a wide assortment of flavors, and can serve as a nice snack with milk any hour of the day or night. They stay fresh for a long time in the packaging, so you can always keep a stash on hand.
  7. Pet Treats – If your host family has any pets, they may or may not have some treats available for them. Bring along some of your own to help make friends with the family dog or cat. It doesn’t hurt to keep them happy and you might just keep them out of mischief too.
  8. Fresh-Baked Cookies – This is a time-honored tool in every realtor’s arsenal that can work in a similar fashion for sitters too. Anytime you arrive bearing gifts, especially this kind, you’ll find that life goes a lot more smoothly for you – with the family, and with the kids.
  9. Drink Powder – You can buy small packets of flavored powder that can be mixed with water for a tasty and healthy alternative to plain old tap water. You never know when the pickings might be slim for drinks, and a handful of these is like having your own vending machine.
  10. Coloring Books and Crayons – This is a great way to give the kids a chance to be creative. Invite them to make something special for Mom and Dad while they’re out. In addition to these, you might think up some other arts and crafts items to make it a creative night all around.

Being prepared is not just the Boy Scout motto; it is a good tip for everyone. Especially when dealing with children, it is important to stay on top of things. Try to have your goody bag ready and a few tricks up your sleeves.

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10 Huge Celebrities with Deadbeat Siblings

Friday, May 18th, 2012

When you make it big or just come into some money it’s amazing how many long lost family members surface to share the wealth.  I’m sure the same thing happens when your sibling makes it big in music or acting.  We’ve seen a lot of siblings ride the coattails of their celebrity sibling.  Check out 10 celebrities with deadbeat siblings.

  1. Michael Jackson: Michael may have gotten his start singing with his older brothers and sisters, but when his talent took off and he made it big things changed.  Now after his death his brothers and sisters are still fighting over his money.  The only one who isn’t fighting is Janet because she’s almost as big as Michael was.  It was rumored that Michael was paying a lot of the bills for his brothers and sisters over the last twenty years.  La Toya is still trying to cash in on the fact that she is Michael’s sister.
  2. Alec Baldwin: His brother Daniel is the least famous of the brother.  I’m not sure if he gets extra credit or not because all of his brothers are more successful than he is.  Yes, Daniel is the deadbeat brother of Alec, William and Stephen Baldwin.  He’s a drug user, streaker, and reckless driver just to name a few.  He tried to make a buck by appearing on Celebrity Fit Club, a reality show that helps celebrities lose weight and get into shape, but he didn’t even show up for the season finale.  What a loser.  I guess the good genes all ran out by the time they got to him.
  3. Jimmy Carter: Billy is a red-necked hick that has embarrassed his brother on multiple occasions.  Not only is he an alcoholic, but he’s been caught by press urinating on an airport runway.  Over the years Billy has tried to profit off of his brother’s good name by trying to sell his own line of beer.  How appropriate for an alcoholic to sell his own line of beer.
  4. Madonna: Anthony Ciccone, Madonna’s older brother, is reportedly homeless and living under a bridge in Michigan.  Apparently he has trouble handling money which might be why he’s living on the streets.  He’s mad at his sister for not helping him out during his time of need.  Apparently he got fired from the “family vineyard” which probably tells you what kind of work ethic the guy had if his own family fired him.
  5. Mariah Carey: Alison Carey Scott, older sister of Mariah Carey, is said to be HIV positive as a result of her life as a hooker.  She has been arrested for prostitution and drugs.  Apparently she has an ad out advertising herself as an escort and erotic massager at the going rate of $250 an hour.  She claims she can get no help from any of her family.  She is the mother of four.  Mariah has paid for rehab several times.
  6. Bill Clinton: Roger Clinton, he’s the deadbeat brother of former president Bill Clinton.  He’s done time in prison for dealing cocaine in the 80’s and taking money from the mob in exchange for a request for leniency for some mobster doing time for dealing cocaine.  Just what we need, the president’s half-brother taking payoff money from the Gambino family.  Tsk. Tsk.  Shameful, kind of makes what Bill did less offensive right?
  7. Jimi Hendrix: Leon, deadbeat brother of Jimi, this guy really was scraping bottom.  He stole a fur coat and was sent to jail.  He was doing time for his crime right when his brother Jimi died and he got next to nothing in inheritance.  Apparently most of it went to Jimi’s dad and when his dad passed away poor Leon only got a single gold record to show for it.  He’s now so slimy he’s trying to make money by selling albums and the only thing going for that album is his last name.  Too bad he couldn’t find a life of his own.
  8. Rob Lowe: Chad Lowe, riding his brother Rob Lowe’s coattails trying to make a name for himself in Hollywood, but failing miserably at it.
  9. Richard Nixon: Donald Nixon, brother of former president Richard Nixon.  He wasn’t a complete deadbeat, but he kept trying his hand in venture after venture with people his brother “knew”.  His money got tied up in the Watergate scandal as well and he filed for bankruptcy in 1961.  He later died of cancer in 1987.  His brother didn’t trust him and was having the CIA wiretap him.
  10. Beyonce Knowles: Solange, little sister to Beyonce, Solange got her start as a teenager dancing with sister Beyonce’s group Destiny’s Child.  She went on to write and record an album on her Father’s record label.  The album did not do particularly well.  Beyonce tried to help her sister when she could.  Solange has done some acting as well cashing in on her sister’s fame to get the roles.

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10 Ways Parents Can Make Sibling Rivalry a Positive

Sunday, May 13th, 2012

Sibling rivalry can tear a family apart; or as in the case of Eli and Peyton Manning, it can pull a family together and produce some extraordinary results. It is all a matter of how parents handle things. If you are concerned about the rivalry between your kids, here are some suggestions to use that power for good.

  1. Get your kids involved in sports – A sport can be a great outlet for energy and give each child a chance to excel in his or her preferred field. Since most siblings will be different ages they most likely will not be competing head to head. This will give them each an opportunity to support and cheer on one another.
  2. Give equal play to your kids – Without intending to, some parents show favoritism between kids making rivalry worse. If your son is in Boy Scouts and your daughter is in Girl Scouts be sure to support each child equally. Oftentimes, Girl Scouts get back seat rating to their Boy Scout brothers, both in activities and financial support of the program. When your daughter goes after her Gold Award, you will be just as proud of her as you are of your Eagle Scout. Whatever activities your kids choose, be sure to support them equally with your time and resources – even if it’s not your favorite thing to do.
  3. Encourage friendly competition – Sometimes kids will compete academically which can be a good thing as long as parents support the kids no matter what their test scores are. Teach your kids how to encourage each other as they compete and this will help the competition stay on friendly ground.
  4. Teach acceptable methods of handling conflict – Kids are going to get into conflicts with one another whether or not they are in competition on the playing field or in academics. Teaching them how to handle conflict in a positive and proactive manner will help them develop an important life skill.
  5. Praise effort over success – Of course you want your kids to be successful in everything good they do, however, when it comes to certain things, too much praise over success can be detrimental to one child over the other. Learning to give praise to a child for a valiant effort is priceless when it comes to rivalry between kids. The kid coming in second is most likely trying harder than the one who comes in first and those efforts need to be acknowledged by all, even the more successful sibling.
  6. Help each child find their niche – In one family, two boys were constantly at each other’s throats growing up; as they got older one joined the wrestling team while the other joined the debate team. Both became extremely successful in their activities and they learned to support one another. Finding what your kids are good at and giving them the support they need to do their best will help turn rivalry into a positive.
  7. Stress teamwork – There are things that can happen within the family that will foster teamwork between siblings. Teach the kids to work together and point out how things get done better and faster when everyone is pulling together. Engage in activities that are non-competitive and require cooperation.
  8. Teach empathy – Getting kids to empathize with one another is something that is taught. It takes time to stop and talk with your kids about their feelings and come to a place of understanding what empathy is about. However, it is worth the effort.
  9. Start early – Having more than one child will most likely lead to sibling rivalry at some point, so if you head it off early, you may have a better chance of that rivalry being more of a positive than a negative experience. When a new baby is due, older siblings can be very helpful as they assume the position of big brother or big sister. Begin talking about the responsibilities of being the older sibling in terms of being a good example showing compassion, being helpful, etc. Continue these talks as the kids grow and model the behaviors you wish your children to emulate. You may find that your kids end up helping each other more than bashing each other.
  10. Use humor – Many times using humor appropriately to deal with circumstances is all that’s needed to turn a bad situation around. Never use humor to embarrass or humiliate or call attention to a short coming, however.

Sibling rivalry is something that can have a positive side, if dealt with properly. It may seem like an uphill battle, but many larger families have found that when they started early in the game to foster sibling unity, that’s pretty much the result they got. Other families came late to the game, but using positive techniques, they too were able to turn fighting into friendship – maybe not all the time, but certainly a good deal of the time.

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10 Ways to Get Kids to Share a Bathroom Peacefully

Wednesday, May 9th, 2012

When you have more kids than bathrooms, you will eventually run into trouble, unless you are one of the lucky few parents who have already established some ground rules and bathroom sharing etiquette. Don’t despair; there are some simple things you can do to make bathroom sharing less challenging and more peaceful. Read on, for some suggestions.

  1. Consolidate activities when possible – Depending on the ages and genders of your children it may be possible to consolidate some bathroom activities without giving up too much privacy. If you have older kids, talk with them about some of the concessions they would be willing to make for one another.
  2. Make a schedule – Perhaps a bathroom schedule would work for your family. Each child could be assigned a time slot and they would have to get all their bathroom things done within that time slot.
  3. Limit bathroom activities – Some activities that take place in the bathroom can be done elsewhere. For example, putting on make up doesn’t need to happen in the bathroom; hair can be groomed in the bedroom.
  4. Create a space for grooming – Consider putting a nice vanity in the girls’ room. Making space in the bedrooms and providing necessary accoutrements could actually make older kids less likely to spend unnecessary time primping and preening in front of the bathroom mirror.
  5. Use a timer – Putting reasonable time limits on bathroom use is another way to get kids to share. The timer can be set according to what needs to happen. Parents will still need to monitor the timer to make sure there is no cheating.
  6. Reward good behavior – Sometimes just rewarding desired behavior is enough to reinforce it. Praising your kids for sharing the bathroom peacefully may be all that’s needed. Kids thrive on praise and attention, and they will repeat behaviors to solicit more of it.
  7. Teach consideration – Don’t just assume your kids will share or not share the bathroom on their own. Just as you need to teach your kids manners, you will need to teach them to be considerate of one another’s bathroom time. Teaching them consideration in this area will probably spill over into other areas as well.
  8. Create consequences for not sharing peacefully – Chances are, if your kids find out that fighting over bathroom time results in spending quality time in the bathroom – cleaning it – they will decide to share quietly. Creating consequences for undesirable behavior may work for getting the kids to think twice before they start the bathroom wars.
  9. Alternate bath and shower times – Bedtime baths and good morning showers is one way to keep some peace around the bathroom. Those who like to bathe and younger kids who are yet using the shower can bathe at night before bed while those who prefer to shower can do so in the morning, since it takes less time.
  10. Enforce the bathroom rules you create – In order to maintain the peace, you will need to be strict about enforcing any rules that are established around bathroom time. Being lax in sticking to the rules will eventually lead back to chaos and bathroom wars.

It would be nice if everyone could have their own private bathroom space, however, for many families, those days are over; and for others, it’s just not going to happen. The good news is, many large families have gotten along with one or two bathrooms for generations, so it can be done. Learning to respect each other’s space and time is a skill worth developing because it may be needed again later, when the kids go to college or if they find themselves living in other shared circumstances.

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10 Ways Babysitters Can Earn Extra Money

Saturday, May 5th, 2012

Babysitting is a great way for a girl to earn an income and gain some work experience at the same time. It offers the opportunity to develop skills like time child care, time management, business management, leadership, and many more. With such skills as these in mind, what are some other potential means to earn some extra money aside from babysitting? Let’s have a look at ten possibilities:

  1. Day Care Worker – All of the skills that make you a great babysitter will qualify you to work part-time at a day care center as well. These jobs complement one another well with regard to skills as well as typical work hours.
  2. Pet Sitting – You may find that families that you babysit for also have pets that need to be cared for when the family’s away; or they may have friends and neighbors who can use a good pet sitter. This can broaden your list of references at the same time.
  3. Tutoring – Your babysitting jobs may have introduced you to some opportunities to tutor for some extra income. You may even have already done some tutoring as part of your babysitting duties. This can work well with your current job as a sitter, and you may be able to double up with some families, doing both jobs for more money.
  4. House Cleaning – Offer your services as a house cleaner to the families that you sit for, and ask them for referrals. You’d be surprised how many families with kids who need sitters could also use some help with other household chores.
  5. Summer Camp – There are numerous opportunities for teens at summer camps. Check with your local camps  for openings during the off-season. Counselors, assistant coaches, and other jobs are often available.
  6. Lawn Mowing – If you’ve got the right equipment and lots of energy, you may want to consider taking care of a few yards in the neighborhood. Landscaping and gardening help are always in demand during the spring and summer.
  7. Car Detailing – It’s not as complicated as it might sound, and doesn’t require any mechanical know-how. It’s really all about dressing up a car after it’s been washed. Windows, wheels, dash, etc. all need to be cleaned, polished, waxed, etc., and that’s worth pretty good money for the right touch.
  8. Grocery Shopping – There may be some elderly neighbors or shut-ins nearby who need someone to run their errands or buy their groceries for them. This could be an opportunity for you to help someone and possibly earn some extra money.
  9. Fast Food – If you’re old enough and able to work an available shift, there’s always an opening at fast food restaurants. The pay is better than you might think, and benefits are also included for full-time workers, and some for part-timers as well.
  10. House Sitting – Even neighbors without young children or pets can use a sitter. When people go away for vacations or business trips, they might like to have someone look after their home for them. It’s good to have a responsible person check the mail, make sure the house lights are turned on, etc.

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