Questions for Your Sitter

There are so many questions to consider when interviewing babysitters for your children. Bringing a new person into your home is a big deal, especially if they will be caring for your children. I have been researching various mother’s blogs and babysitting agency sites to determine what questions parent’s are asking their potential sitter and what you as a parent should be asking when searching for that perfect family match.

Each week I am going to be posting a series of 3 questions parents have been and should be asking their potential sitter with an explanation of why so many people find these questions so imperative!

These questions are also important for sitters. It is always good to be prepared for whatever question may come your way. At Sitters on Park LLC, we have each of our sitters complete a formal application containing many of the questions I will be posting. We also have an in-person interview to ask more questions in need of a longer, well thought out explanation that will allow the sitter to reflect on her past experiences.

1.What are her qualifications?

Ask the sitter how many years of experience they have working with children. It is important to know if they have any kind of certifications or taken any courses that make them more favorable, and valuable, as a sitter. Certifications that are very important for a babysitter to have are: CPR, First Aid, and Babysitting.

2. Is there an age-range with which she is most comfortable?

Not all sitters are comfortable with children of all ages. Some may only have experience working with infants and newborns while others may have never changed a diaper. Get a feel for the various age groups your sitter has worked with.

3.Can she provide references?

It may be reason for suspicion if a sitter tells you she has experience but cannot provide you with references. This either means she has had bad reviews in the past, or, has falsely built her work portfolio.

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The Convert

Trying to get kids to eat their vegetables is no easy feat, but let’s face it, neither is it for adults. We all crave the bad and the terrible. Oh yeah, I am talking about the french fries, late night hot dogs at one of those deliciously smelling stands on the sidewalk that in clear day you gawk at in disgust, and that cheesy pizza bread. All things so amazing in the moment but so regretful hours later.

I was a vegetarian for about 5 years (not easy and obviously not completely well worth it as I converted back to join my fellow carnivores). In that time I also did my best to avoid those “evil” fried, greasy foods that I so often wanted. Those foods that seemed to hate my waistline and more so, my better judgement. I had to search for an ulterior solution, something innovative to crack the code of the fried food item! That’s when I learned about the Panko bread crumb craze…

I fell victim.  I began loving to coat my vegetables with the crunchy, airy goodness that is Panko and baking them until they reached their peak golden perfection. I came across a recipe this morning for Panko baked avocado fries and I must say, it looks delicious. I have not had the opportunity to test this recipe out yet but I have to say that the contrast of the buttery, delicate sweetness of the avocado and the crunch and texture of the Panko crumb sounds genius!

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Check out this site for the recipe: http://diana212m.blogspot.com/2011/10/baked-avocado-fries.html

Pop Art

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Looking for a DIY project that will reveal your inner artist? I am always looking for fun and easy projects that I can work on in my free time (and that will hopefully make me look like the fabulous artist I am not). I came across this idea on the Chez Larsson blog for Punch Art designs. Chose a color that suits you (or your children if that is who you are making it for) and that adds a pop of color. You can use white thumb tacks to make a speech bubble (try stenciling the bubble out first so that you have precise lines to work with). Wallah! You have made your very own work of art! Now all you have to do is use a dry erase marker and write quotes that you can change up once and a while. It may be a good idea to take pictures of each quote before erasing them and keep them in a scrap book for a rainy day.

For more artsy ideas, check out: http://chezlarsson.com/myblog/2009/08/introducing-my-shop.html

History of Child Care in America

As I was researching the grassroots on child care in the United States, I cam across this informative article on the progression of child care in America. Although our country has progressed over the centuries, it seems that child care has been an issue that working families continue to struggle with every year. To learn more about our nations history of child care, please read this synopsis of a very insightful article:

During the Progressive Era, women reform efforts began to pick up while child care became a target for modernization. Reformers began to search for an alternative solution to the dilemma poor mothers faced being compelled to work outside the home and away from their children. Day nurseries only seemed to add to the difficulties by encouraging women to take arduous, low paying jobs while their children suffered from inadequate care. The idea of “mother’s or widows pensions” quickly came about and gained popular public support. These pensions did not challenge gender roles but rather promoted women to stay at home and care for their children. Like soldiers at the time, mothers were considered to be “serving the nation.” Unfortunately, pension coverage was sporadic and maternal employment continued to increase.

This pattern continued through the 1920’s as the U.S Children’s Bureau (CB) conducted a series of studies across the country. These studies found several instances of infant and toddler injuries as a result of them being left alone or brought into a hazardous work environment. The CB worked to strengthen mother’s pensions so that more mothers could stay at home.

The Depression caused unemployment to rise and day nursery donations to sharply fall, forcing 200 day nurseries to shut down between 1931 and 1940. Meanwhile, the Works Progress Administration (WPA), a New Deal agency, established a program entitled Emergency Nursery Schools (ENS) intended to offer employment opportunities to unemployed teachers. Nearly 3,000 schools enrolling 64,000 children were started in 1933 and 1934. ENS’s were only open for part of the day and their enrollments were restricted to children of the employed. By the late 1930’s, the ENS began to suffer from high turnover rates as teachers started leaving to take on higher paying jobs forcing 1,000 schools to close down.

WWII reduced the unemployment crisis in America but created a social crisis as millions of women sought employment in war-related industries. According to the government’s guidelines, one child care slot was required for every 10 female defense workers. When the female labor force peaked at 19 million in 1944 however, only 3,000 child care centers were in operation with a capacity of 130,000 children. Popular media reported on the spread of “latchkey children” who were frequently found locked in their mother’s cars as their mother’s worked the night shift. These stories created a negative stigma for working mother’s, that they were selfish wage-earners, rather than focusing on the need for better child care in the U.S.

In 1954 Congress found an approach to child care that government could live with: the child care tax deduction. This allowed low to moderate income families to deduct $600 for child care from their income taxes. In 1958 activists formed a national organization devoted exclusively to child-care: the Inter-City Committee for Day Care of Children (ICC). From 1969 to 1971, a coalition of feminists, labor leaders, civil rights leaders, and early childhood advocates worked with Congress to legislate a universal child care policy. Their efforts failed when President Nixon vetoed the Comprehensive Child Development Act of 1971 which resulted in three decades of direct federal support for child care being limited to policies targeted to “low income” families. In the 1980’s, under the Regan administration, the balance of federal child care funding shifted. These measures stimulated the growth of voluntary and for-profit child care.

Due to its extensive history, child care in America is divided along class lines, making it difficult for parents to unit for improved services and increased child care funding.

Source: Michel, Sonya PhD. Professor of History and American Studies at University of Maryland. The History of Child Care in the U.S. 2012

A Red Velvet Valentine

As we all know, Valentines Day is rapidly approaching. I have to admit that this day has always been my favorite holiday (although many people strongly disagree and tell me I’m crazy). I think people forget that Valentines Day is a day for celebrating love- just general love. You do not have to be cuddling up with your significant other in a crowded restaurant filled with pink and red balloons (movie reference? I think so). It is a time to be with those people that mean the world to you. For you parents out there, I have found a deliciously sweet treat for your little ones that also helps you to avoid a sticky mess. I stumbled across a website called “PunchFork” which literally has hundreds of cupcake recipes (both savory and sweet). For Valentines Day, they have a recipe for Red Velvet cupcakes in a jar. I may be bias because red velvet is my FAVORITE cake recipe, but I cannot imagine a more fitting treat for this occasion.

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Check out their website for the full recipe:

http://punchfork.com/recipe/Red-Velvet-Cupcakes-In-a-Jar-My-Baking-Addiction

Loving Paws: Fundraising to help stop domestic animal abuse

Please visit our fundraiser website to learning more information about Loving Paws and to make a donation today: http://www.razoo.com/story/Loving-Paws

Loving Paws is our company’s fundraiser to aid the ASPCA in their effort to prevent domestic animal abuse and neglect across the country. If you are interested in joining us for an upcoming event or would like to donate to this cause please visit our site today. Every visitor makes a difference and every donation serves as a voice for an animal in need of our help.

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Donuts Minus the Fryer

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Not only children like sweets. Just about every person I know has a sweet tooth, some great weakness they just cannot seem to fight. For me personally, that demon is chocolate. I just cannot seem to pass it up when it catches my eye (making waiting in line at grocery stores almost intolerable at times of vulnerability). It is also nearly impossible to find a satisfyingly sweet treat that does not seem terrible for you. Baked goods always seem to get a bad rep mainly because if they are not fried or sugar coated, they have about 3 sticks of butter (just the way Ms. Paula Deen likes it!).

Thankfully I came across a recipe for a doughnut that surprisingly was neither of these things,making it a healthy but satisfy sweet treat for anyone to enjoy. I found this amazing recipe on Jamie’s Kitchen for her Banana Chocolate Chip no fryer need doughnuts. Check out the following link to see how you can make them in your kitchen:

http://janieskitchen.com/2012/12/03/banana-chocolate-chip-baked-doughnuts/

Design by Nursery

I have failed to keep up with my posts over the past couple months due to the craziness that is the holiday season, but I am back! As an intern for Parenting magazine a couple summers ago, I was responsible for researching various article ideas ranging in topics from baby safe foods to trendy clothing and room designs. Throughout my days researching in cubicles and flipping through magazines, I have seen so many modern and chic nursery designs that would appeal to all kinds of design tastes across the map. My person taste has developed into one that is modern, chic, and clean. The less clutter the better, which is especially the case when a baby is involved. Between the bottles and diapers, the last thing a parent needs is more clutter. I have put together a collage of nursery’s that will make a mom actually appreciate spending so much time in there with her little bundle of joy.

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My oh my Pumpkin Pie…and Gingerbread

With the holidays approaching all I can think about are the desserts: pumpkin pie, pecan pie, gingerbread. Not only do I crave these delicious sweets in there usual form but when they come as flavored coffee, I cannot resist. It might seem crazy, and I doubt I am the only one, but I really feel like the holidays are here when Starbucks changes their coffee cups. You know what I’m talking about! They are red with Christmas designs all around, yea those are the ones I’m talking about!

When you grasp that cup in your cold hands (ok we are in Florida so not that cold) and smell the sweetness from the gingerbread or pumpkin spice, you feel at home. I came upon a great recipe that incorporates both of these amazing holiday flavors: Pumpkin and Gingerbread Ice Cream Sandwiches. I know ice cream may not be one of the first choices of dessert you think about as winter approaches but how could you turn down something that looks so good!!

To see the recipe, visit Cannelle Vanille.com:

http://www.cannellevanille.com/seasons/autumn/pumpkin-and-gingerbread-ice-cream-sandwiches/

Paint by Letters

The other day I was babysitting for a little boy who was just starting to learn his letters. It took an arm and a leg to even have him get remotely close to the chalkboard in his play room to practice them, but he was learning. He spelled his name for me with pride and reminded me how many letters it entailed. While we were coloring (or maybe I was coloring and trying to convince his that it was fun and not just for girls) I thought that there has to be a better way to teach kids their letters. Then I found this on education.com:

Coloring by letters in a fun way to teach your children their letters while they are doing an activity they enjoy. Who doesn’t love coloring?!