Five Must Do’s If your Nanny is driving your children

At LifeWorx, we are often asked, “What are the proper steps to take if your nanny, housekeeper or child care provider drives your car?” We are also asked, “What should you do to be safe and have proper coverage?” There are many essentials to keeping your family safe when allowing your housekeeper or child care provider to drive your children. Here are our top 5 tips:

  1. Drivers License Check: If any domestic worker drives your car you must do a drivers license check. This will show you if the child care provider or nanny has any violations, points, a suspended license, or anything else that would be of concern. If there is something concerning, discuss it with the candidate. You may want to repeat such a background check every couple of years.
  2. Add the driver to your insurance policy: If background is good, then make sure this person is added as a driver to your insurance policy. Sometimes it may cost a bit more based on their driving record, but if the driving record is fairly good, there is generally not much extra cost. If you have a high deductible, such as $2000, and your nanny is not a seasoned driver, you may want to change the deductible to $500 to take care of any fender benders that sometimes occur when the nanny or child care provider is pulling out of a school parking area or a grocery store.
  3. Car reliability, Inspection and Registration: The third thing to do is to make sure that your car is in very good working order with good tires and brakes. Also, make sure your annual vehicle inspection and registrations are up to date.
  4. Establish Driving Rules with your Nanny: The fourth thing to do is to discuss what the driving rules are for the nanny or housekeeper when using the car. For example, can he/she use it over the weekend, or only in the evening. Rules include: where to park, how to keep the car well maintained, how often to get a car wash, etc.
  5. Establish Rules of the Car with Children and Driver: The fifth and final thing to ensure safety is to establish rules of the car. What can/can’t kids do in the car – snacks, music, videos and conversations that could potentially be distracting. Rules such as seat belt and children’s car seat rules must also be enforced. It always works better when the parents and the driver both set the same rules for the children. One of our housekeepers in Armonk, NY was fired because she did not make sure the children had their seat belts on when she was driving them home from their bus stop.

Having a car for nannies and au pairs to drive is often a luxury, but a necessity, and it needs to be well respected and cared for in order for everyone to be safe. LifeWorx has done 20,000 services without any injury or car accidents.

If the nanny or housekeeper drives their own car, and drives your children in this car once in a while, additional items to take care of and think about include how they will get paid for the use of their car. Most importantly, make sure you have gotten your nanny or child care provider a business insurance – the cost is a few hundred dollars, but it is well worth it to ensure that you are covered when your nanny is driving your children.

Often housekeepers and nannies are smart, they know car economics and they do not want to put miles on their car for just gas money. One mom in Dobbs Ferry, NY wanted the nanny to drive her car; about 50 miles a week, and was willing to give her the standard IRS rate of about 50 cents a mile. Unfortunately, the nanny did not understand what that means in terms of added cost and income, and refused to put miles on her car; even though this arrangement seemed like such a win-win for both parties. You, as a domestic employer, may need to be patient and take the time to explain the car math to the nanny in order to build trust with each other and have safety, security and reliability when it comes to transportation.

sharing the disciplining of children and babies with nannies/care providers

There is no perfect answer to the question posed, and no one has written down the rules. However, it is one of the most important aspect of childcare starting from the toddler stages and extending to the teenage years. Often, parents don’t know how to have this conversation and set expectations and guidelines for their nanny, child care provider, babysitter, or housekeeper. Giving these care providers some level of authority and setting proper boundaries is very critical in helping the child develop respect and discipline. Often, young and playful nannies don’t know how to initiate a conversation about discipline and authority with parents. It is important to start talking about this on day one with your nanny. One family on the Upper East Side of Manhattan has always had the problem of their kids making fun of and testing the nanny. These kids locked the nanny out; they made fun of her and would not listen to her directions. Of course the nanny was weak and should have taken charge of the situation, but the parents should have also warned her with information about the situation at home so that she could have been more prepared. Most kids are sweet and most nannies are strong enough to manage the kids, but there needs to be a conversation about expectations. Also, another family with tweens had the kids cursing at the housekeeper. These situations create new challenges for nannies; as the kids are their charges but not their children. Nannies will generally see a situation that needs work and know how to make it better. Within few weeks they have all the respect and appreciation from the whole family. No one can have just dessert, we all have to eat broccoli too! This family in Greenwich, CT asked for a nanny that is assertive; it was the first sign of openness and clarity about the situation at home. Each family is different, and we have to find the right fit of command, warmth, discipline and play. There is a right balance for each, but it only comes as the result of good communication between all parties involved.

grand opening of our new office in westport, ct

LifeWorx has just opened up a new office in Westport, CT! We have made lemonade out of lemon! This tough economy turned out to be a bit of a blessing as we decided to look for a better location than the upstairs office in New Canaan or Darien, CT. We eventually found a great location and affordable rent at a very busy corner in Westport, CT. The office is located on the river side corner, at the West End of the bridge, and right on the street level.

This tough economy has all of us working harder and thinking more creatively of ways to provide products and services with higher reliability and value. More mothers are looking for work, and are leaving their home and children to child care, elder care, nanny or day care providers. At LifeWorx, we are making sure our clients have good child care and elder care help so that they can focus more time doing the things they love. We pride ourselves in making sure they have the most reliable and trusted help in their home. We were in New Canaan for two years and it is a very wonderful town, but we were upstairs and not on the main street where we were visible to everyone.

Now, everyone can see us and stop by the office to explore child care, elder care, chef and housekeeping choices in CT. We love when people stop by and talk to us about helping their families with child care, elder care, nannies, housekeepers and chef services in CT. At Lifeworx, our strategy is to be a present member in the community, and be actively involved in serving the families in Westchester County, Westport CT and Fairfield CT. LifeWorx has taken part in the United Way charity events, the Stepping Stones Children’s Museum, Toys for Tots, several school events and other scholarships. We look forward to being a part of the Westport community and bringing the highest level of service to all of Fairfield County, just as we have done in Westchester and Manhattan.

swine flu shots for your nanny or housekeeper

As a homeowner, Mother or Nanny, you are obviously concerned about contracting the swine flu. Mothers are concerned about their children since they are more vulnerable to the swine flu then many other types of flu. One of the Personal Assistants to a family in Greenwich, CT that LifeWorx talked with recently told us the whole family she worked with was down with swine flu. As soon as she heard the news, she went to the doctor and took the proper medicine. She also made sure that the other service providers including childcare, elder care and nanny sot swine flu shots.

Another client in Chappaqua, NY who has newborn twins asked for only nanny and child care candidates who have taken swine flu shots or who are wiling to get the shots. There are legal issues about swine flu screening of nannies and housekeepers. As a childcare service provider, we are open to both types of candidates. However, as a homeowner and a Mother, you have the right to ask and screen for childcare and nanny candidates who have taken the swine flu shots. Most domestic service providers including Nannies, Housekeepers, Elder care professional and chefs are all very flexible about taking the flu shots. Some other service providers such as housekeepers may not be as keen on getting the flu shots.

The best advice for homeowners is to make sure that household help including childcare, elder care and nanny service providers have had the swine flu shot. We also recommend paying for the shot, which costs around $25 or directing the household help to a local clinic that may provide free swine flu shots. Giving the child care and nanny service providers an hour of time to get the shot would be very much appreciated by your service provider.

appreciation: a motivator for your child care, elder care, chef and nanny service providers

At LifeWorx, one of our chefs Greg, who provides full time Personal Chef Service to a client in Manhattan, New York, always sends us warm greetings and appreciation about the personal chef job we found for him in Manhattan, NY.  He does not shower us with unnecessary praise, rather he is humble and on the mark about what he likes about working with LifeWorx.  In one of the most recent notes we received from him, Greg said, “As always I am grateful to you for guiding me toward my position with Rose. Looking back at the past 2 years I do see that I have been guided by powers greater then myself and I have been very lucky.  I also realize that there are many people suffering now who have little or insufficient work and I pray that things change for them and for all of us very soon.”

Greg is not just lucky; he is extremely professional, skilled and appreciative.   His boss in New York, NY is also extremely appreciative of his chef services.  The appreciation that she provides to him fosters the growth of their relationship, and she provides clarity and honesty which motivates him and makes Greg provide the best possible chef service in NYC that he can.  There are many times when appreciation may go to an individual’s ego.  For many individuals who have never experienced genuine appreciation, they misperceive it as a weakness in the boss and start to claim their righteousness and demand immediate benefits or pay increase.  It is the equivalent of a lit match that never saw any fuel before- as he or she is appreciated; the ego gets fuller as opposed to the level of effort or skills.

I recently visited India and 42 of my extended family members went to a resort and we took a personal chef with us.  Each meal that the chef and his help provided to our extended family was with a unique cuisine, and it was incredibly fresh and healthy.  Of course some of it was traditional while other courses included fusion cuisine from all over the world.  On the last day, all of my family members personally thanked him for his outstanding service and delightful meals.  The glow on his face has been etched into my memory forever.  He served the best meals and all of the appreciation went right to his heart rather then to his ego.

For information on Chef Services provided by LifeWorx, visit http://lifeworx.com/services/chef.html

happiness in the new year

I am often very tired from working long hours, taking care of my home and taking care of the family. There is always a large amount of stress and lack of time. However, I am extremely happy despite the stress and pressure I endure from my day to day living. This became very obvious to me after reading a recent study in BusinessWeek.  The research showed that happiness comes from doing activities and hobbies with meaning, rather then just having fun.  This is so true in my life! When I was recently speaking with a mother with three teenage daughters in Greenwich, CT, and she sounded ecstatic despite having little time and lack of sleep, it was because she had a mission and purpose in life.  When I see my friend Sheila from Pelham, NY extremely happy after her 50th Birthday, it is because she also has a purpose and meaning in everything she does in life.  My friends and colleagues who have passion and a mission in life often work harder, and are more tired as a result.  However, these people seem more fulfilled then the rest of us.  Senator Kennedy also comes to mind as a person with a mission, who was a hard worker and a representation of happiness.  He never lacked energy because all he was doing was getting energy from his mission on a daily basis.

The BusinessWeek study delineates 5 steps to make anyone happier.  The steps include:

  1. Watching less TV
  2. Doing fewer chores
  3. Spending less time on the computer
  4. Finding your passion in life
  5. Focusing on fewer, yet more meaningful activities

Yesterday, I heard a key message in a New York City news clip which really resonated with me.  Although work at time drives us insane, lack of work will make us insane faster.  I am thankful to have passion for what I do at LifeWorx and to work with talented child care, elder care and nanny service providers in Westchester, NY, Fairfield, CT and Westport, CT.

working mother new year resolutions

The Chinese have a concept of the“year of” for every New Year. If I have to declare the “year of” for 2010, it would be the year of Women, or the year of Moms. Moms are amazing. Mothers have taken on more responsibility and leadership every single year, from child care, to elder care, to making the home an amazing place. Women are also powerful executives, powerful forces in the higher education realm and driving forces in many community service projects. I have witnessed many women in my life taking care of elderly parents. Every employee at LifeWorx speaks with Mothers all day long, and we serve many working Mothers throughout Westchester, NY, Fairfield, CT and Westport, CT. Many of these Mothers in CT & Westchester are single, married, and some are even taking care of multiple children, as well as running the entire household. We believe this is more than a full time job, and commend these powerful women for taking charge in so many different areas of their lives.

In the current recession, women have continued working while many of their husband have been laid off. Of the 10 million job losses, ¾ of these losses have been men. How long with women continue to work so hard without receiving any time of relief? I say this not to discount the role of men, because as a male provider, we work very hard too. However, my sensitivity toward women is because they take on more physical and emotional challenges as they become overloaded. Many of these efforts have not yet been recognized by society at large.

Here is a suggestion for New Years Resoltuions for Busy Moms:

  1. Take 4 hours a week for yourself
  2. Take the time to enjoy a book you have been anxiously awaiting
  3. Take a walk
  4. Join a new yoga class
  5. Go to the gym and enjoy a great working
  6. Find a new hobby with a friend that you find fulfilling

Consider this as a time you are investing in yourself in order to give more to your family, and ultimately to yourself. Many times throughout parenthood, I felt guilty and worried when I took time to take care of myself. This was a mistake! I now know that taking this personal time is vital in becoming a stronger and more balanced individual. It is important to take these New Years Resolutions in steps. Simple resolutions and suggestions such as taking 4 hours for myself every week became manageable, simple, flexible and valuable.

happy thanksgiving with a positive attitude in tough times

As a business owner, I, like many of you, have been worried about the economy for most of this year. The job market has gotten worse for most Americans and the economy is improving very slowly. How can we reflect on this with a bit more courage than fear? When I was in the high school, a teacher once told me that the things we consider to be stressful are nothing compared with the stress of thousands of years ago. The teacher said, “Imagine being on a farm and living in a small community of 100 or so people in the middle of Mexico, or a settlement of Native Americans outside of New York along the Hudson River.” The memory was tucked away somewhere in my head and it keeps coming back to me when I see myself overly worried. The teacher said, “When they lived in these communities a long time ago, they sowed seeds and counted on rain for the crop to grow, harvest and provide the essential food. Often, there were droughts for 2-3 years in a row, all of the farm animals died, the community was malnourished and they wondered among the few survivors who would die next.” She exclaimed, “That is stressful!”

This provides us with a perspective to allow all of us to accept everything that comes our way in life. Please don’t get me wrong, I enjoy luxuries, but when there are emotional challenges or stressful moments, I reflect on two main things…  (1) That what I am facing is little compared to others and (2) That we as humans have tremendous capacity to handle stress. To conquer stress, we need to be aware of it, put it in perspective and find ways to de-stress. Doing yoga in 100 degree weather in India is of course a great way to de-stress. The other thing that gives us the ability to handle stress and challenge is a mindset to justify it as “God’s” way of sending me to the School of Emotional Growth”. We go to school and college to build intellectual growth, we go to the gym and run on the trail to get physically fit, we visit church or temple or a retreat to get religion or spiritual growth and we enjoy parties and events to build relational maturity. However, the two most important things we have with us are instincts and emotional strength.  These are brought to us through generations and these are assets of much higher value then the economy. We know the economy will come back and hope it comes back soon for our community. Happy Thanksgiving and hope everyone finds lots of love peace and joy.

what is the priority: simplicity vs. perfection?

A client from Rowayton, CT asked “Should I get a nanny to take care of my baby and a housekeeper to take care of my house, or should there be only one person to do both childcare and cleaning?” Another client asked, “Should I get a chef for nutritious and fresh dinners and a housekeeper for our Bedford, NY home or a fairly good cook and a housekeeper, both in one?” Many clients have said that they can employ a bright person and train them and save some money or re-train a childcare, elder care or chef service provider who is very skilled and excels in a specific duty. All of these are good questions about best practices regarding child care, elder care and nannies. The answer depends on how much time you have and your priorities about your children, home, family and nutrition. You can then find a perfect solution to your exact needs if you have reasonable expectations, have time to search on your own, or have money to hire an agency to work for you. Some of LifeWorx’ clients have estates and large residences and have 3-10 staff, including child care, elder care, nanny or chef service providers working on the estate. In these cases, the competence and teamwork become the most important attribute since they have an estate manager to manage people. On your own, however, you do not want more then three people working in your home at a time. The best option would be preferably having two people working in your home. A family in Greenwich, CT is looking for both perfection and simplicity which comes at a 20% premium in cost. Such individuals with breadth of skill, great personality and flexibility are in short supply. In today’s world, cost is critical to everyone, and there is so much specific talent available. A little bit of research and networking can bring good long term household help to the family. At LifeWorx we pride ourselves in our child care; elder care and chef service providers because we are very selective and aim to make our clients lives simple so they can spend more time doing the things they love. In today’s world, research and networking can bring good long term household help to families with both skills and simplicity.

women who nurture and help me grow

People around us help us grow.  In my last fifteen years as a single parent I have had the fortune of many talented ladies who have cared for me and brought me lasting joy.  Helen Ansari my aerobics, zumba and yoga instructor at the Saw Mill Club in Mount Kisco, New York gave me the gift of great health.  It is hard to believe that I have been taking her exercise classes for the last 20 years.  She cares and motivates everyone to do their best, but above all she is talented at making the workout exciting. Helen is a breast cancer survivor and active with ACS.  Darya, our god sent housekeeper, was amazing at helping my family with housecleaning, cooking and childcare.  She helped us for four years.  I have been fortunate to have two massage therapists, one for five years and another, more recently, for two years.  Ali, from Cold Springs, NY massaged away all my tensions but unfortunately, three years ago she moved to Vermont.  Now Kristen from New York City heals and helps me.  She has the talent to make anyone’s body and mind soar from the depths of tensions, aches, and pains!  Terry was my dance instructor and Marcia provided executive coaching. And Adalita makes my home spic and span. She is extremely reliable and trustworthy like the sunshine in San Diego. Also, all my lady friends have taught me how to have some fun.

My late wife Candy was always nurturing our home, our son, and our family. She adapted to all the challenges of life in stride.  She taught me how to relate to people on their level and every level.

My mom taught me courage, effort, and integrity.  From as early as I can remember to the day she passed away – for all of her 85 years of life – she found ways to enjoy life.  For my mom, work was worship and family was joy.  I feel the same way.

We all have choices in life – which people to keep around us for example, to nurture, make our lives simple, and help us grow.  I am fortunate and grateful to have an amazing group of talented, caring, and nurturing people to help me.  Now I am working on giving back to all those people that need it, particularly moms.