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Archive for December, 2012

How Much to Pay Your Sitter on New Year’s Eve

Thursday, December 13th, 2012

Figuring out how much to pay your babysitter is always a tough job. You want to be competitive with other families and keep your amazing sitter happy, but you don’t want to break the bank just to get out of the house. Figuring out how much to pay a sitter for New Year’s Eve, which is the most popular day of the year for babysitters, can be even more confusing, and the rate you offer has a big impact on your success in landing a sitter. Because there are more parents looking for childcare for the holiday than there are quality sitters available, offering too little can bump you out of the competition.

So what can you expect to pay? Most sitters charge one and a half to two times their normal rate on New Year’s Eve. If you’re lucky enough to have your regular sitter care for your kids that night, it’s a good bet you can simply multiply her normal rate by 1.5 or 2 and get an acceptable rate. Of course, you want to check with your sitter and make sure that the rate works for her. She may have a different number in mind, or she may require a minimum guarantee.

If you’re booking a new sitter, or hiring someone you haven’t used in a while, start by asking her what her New Year’s Eve rate is. If she babysits on a regular basis she’ll have a good idea of what she expects to earn. If she’s new to sitting or not sure what’s appropriate for the holiday, she may throw the ball back in your court and ask what you’re paying. Although you might be tempted to throw out a low number to see if she’ll bite, you may very well scare her off. Caregivers often don’t feel comfortable negotiating wages with parents, so many of them simply give a yes or no answer based on your first offer. Because of this, when asked what you’re paying, you should offer a range based on your area’s average rate or what you pay your normal sitter. Make it clear that you’re open to discussing a higher rate if that will make the difference between booking her and losing her. Chances are she has several offers on the table, so she’ll take the one that offers her the best overall package.

What if you don’t normally use sitters and don’t know what the going rate for your area is? Your first step should be to check in with other parents and see what they’re paying. Location is the biggest factor in determining a sitter’s rate, so parents that live close to you will be able to give you an accurate range. You can also call your local temp nanny agency and see how much their sitters make per hour. Caregivers through temp agencies usually earn close to the area’s average rate. You can also check online sites and see what other parents are paying and what caregivers are asking for. You’ll get a huge range, but you should be able to come up with an average for your area from that range. Once you know your area’s average rate, you can adjust for the holiday from there.

Many sitters charge by the number of children they’ll be caring for. Generally the rate goes up $1 to $2 an hour for each child over 2 or 3 children. If you have a large family or will have extra kids for the holiday, this can make a big difference in how much it will cost you to go out. Talk with the sitter before booking her to make sure you understand how she will be calculating her hourly rate.

Some sitters will require a minimum number of hours, for instance 6 to 8, on New Year’s Eve to ensure that they’re making the most they can on a night where their services are in high demand. Because most parents make a full night of it, this normally isn’t an issue. However, if you’re planning on only being out for a few hours, make sure to check with your sitter before booking her for the night. Otherwise you might end up paying a lot more than you expected to.

Even though you’ll be paying a higher than normal hourly rate on New Year’s Eve, consider tipping your sitter for a job well done. It’s hard to find a reliable, quality sitter, and giving just a little bit extra along with a big thank you can go a long way in creating a long-term relationship.

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10 Great Q&A Sites for Troubled Teens

Wednesday, December 5th, 2012

It isn’t always easy for teenagers to get help, no matter how desperately they need it. Even when they know where to turn to find the answers, asking the questions that get them there can be a challenge. Fortunately, the Internet offers some terrific resources for teens who are searching for advice. We’ve put together a list of 10 great Q&A sites for troubled teens:

  1. TeenCentral.netUsers can check out podcasts and SchoolTube videos, get advice on dealing with bullying and smoking, and find teen help-lines in their area.  Also included are pages for parents and media.
  2. TroubledTeen101You can get answers about issues ranging from drug abuse to teen pregnancy here, as well as all points in between. Use this site to find programs and centers where you can get help, discover what warning signs to look for, and how to spot risky behavior.
  3. Troubled Teens Info – This website houses free advice for parents of troubled teenagers. Learn the signs of a troubled teen and how to cope with drug abuse and discipline issues. There’s a section that features programs for teens, and also a link for Q&A.
  4. National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence Parents, youth and people in recovery can all find resources here to learn about and combat substance abuse and dependence. A bookstore is also available on the website.
  5. Restoring Troubled TeensA 24-hour hotline is available on this website. The site offers therapeutic boarding schools, wilderness therapy camps and counseling and advice on teen issues, like suicide, gangs, substance abuse and smoking.
  6. Parenting Teens OnlineThis website is a great information resource for parents of teenagers. Dr. Ann Engelland, MD is available to answer your questions about health, money, school, drugs and other teen issues.
  7. Seventeen.comSeventeen magazine publishes articles and resources for teenage girls. It covers topics such as health, beauty and fashion. Obesity and eating disorders are dealt with in articles or via Q&A.
  8. Teen Magazine Sister publication of Seventeen, this magazine is geared toward a broader age group and is co-ed in content. More excellent articles on teen topics are found here, along with advice, Q&A, and a wide variety of common teen issues, as well as solutions for how to deal with them.
  9. Ask Dr. MThere are sections for kids, teens and parents on this website, and each has a question and answer of the week where a host of staffers and readers sound off.
  10. Dr. PhilSearch through the archives or submit a question of your own about teen issues of all stripes on Dr. Phil’s website. Dr. Phil or Robin take all requests and queries via this page. Relationships, weight issues, depression and more are addressed.

Whether you’re a teen looking for help or a parent trying to deal with a troubled child, these websites address all of the trials and tribulations teenagers face, and give helpful advice for how to deal with and avoid common problems.

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Top 10 Holiday Movies to Watch with Your Kids

Monday, December 3rd, 2012

Since the holidays mean that the kids are home from school, what’s better than using that additional time for a little extra family bonding? If you’ve already been ice skating, have read all the Christmas stories, and are at a loss as to what to do next, why not indulge in a family movie night with some classic holiday favorites?  Break out the popcorn and the eggnog and cuddle up with the kids to watch some of these holiday classics, and maybe a few new favorites too.

  1. Charlie Brown Christmas – This movie has been around for over 60 years and it still shows up on television every year.  The movie is about Charlie Brown getting frustrated with the materialism of Christmas.  Linus gives a monologue about the true meaning of Christmas, which helps Charlie Brown understand what Christmas is really all about.  Great for toddlers and older.
  2. A Christmas Story – A classic movie that everyone needs to see, though due to some content it might be best for kids over 10.  Ralphie is a kid who wants a BB gun for Christmas, but everyone tells him that he will shoot his eye out if he gets one.  The story is set in the 40’s and is kind of reminiscent of how things were in the old days.  It was a simpler time, but there is some language and kids fighting, so you’ll need to decide for yourself if your kids are ready.
  3. Frosty the Snowman – Frosty is a snowman that comes to life after some kids found a hat that belonged to a magician and put it on his head.  The animation and music are memorable.  Great for any age. Your kids will likely love this favorite, and probably already know all the words to the accompanying song.
  4. How the Grinch Stole Christmas – Dr. Seuss wrote this book first, and it was then made into a movie.  The Grinch is an ugly, green, furry fellow that is sick to death of how happy everyone is at Christmas, so he decides to steal everything about Christmas.  Because of the kindness shown to him by one small girl, his heart melts and he gives everything back and realizes what Christmas is all about.  Good for all ages.
  5. The Polar Express – A relative newcomer to the holiday movie top picks is this new classic about a young boy who is teetering on the fence as to whether he believes in Santa or not.  Then, on Christmas Eve, a train pulls up behind his house and takes him to the North Pole where he gets to see everything for himself.  A delightful story and great for any age.
  6. Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer – Rudolph is a baby reindeer born to one of Santa’s flying reindeer. He is destined to be on the team that carries Santa’s sleigh until it is discovered that Rudolph has a red nose that lights up. Because of Rudolph’s differences he is picked on by the other young reindeer and they tell him since he doesn’t fit in that he can never fly Santa’s sleigh.  Finally, due to a bad blizzard, Santa discovers that Rudolph’s nose might just be what he needs to be able to deliver all of the toys.
  7. Shrek the Halls – Shrek is planning Christmas when his friends show up and he is concerned that they will wreck all of his plans. As the movie goes on, he realizes that the true joy in Christmas is being with the people that you love, not all of the material things that also tend to accompany the Christmas season.
  8. It’s a Wonderful Life – Jimmy Stewart stars in this classic movie about a guy who feels stuck in his life and wants to travel and see the world.  He doesn’t think he matters, and it’s not until he ends up in a life where no one knows him that he realizes just how important he really is and just how wonderful his life is.  This movie is most suitable for children ages 8 and up.
  9. The Santa Clause – Tim Allen plays a normal guy who happens to unintentionally knock Santa off his roof because he thinks Santa is a burglar.  Tim finds out that he is the next Santa Clause and that he doesn’t really have a choice about it.  Throughout his journey becoming Santa he learns to love the idea and is able to become closer to his son.  Ages 5 and up for this movie.
  10. The Muppet Christmas Carol – As much as you would expect by the title, this movie is the classic Christmas Carol story retold with the Muppets.  The ghost of Christmas future is a little scary, so you may want to shield younger viewers on this part.  This movie is appropriate for kids 5 and up.

Slow down this holiday season and grab a movie to enjoy with your family. These movies have stood the test of time and are worthy of sharing with your kids.

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