10 Ways Your Nanny Can Help With the Holidays
Ask your nanny or babysitter to pitch in this holiday season.
With the holidays just around the corner, you are probably feeling the pressure to complete a number of tasks and be in two -- or even three -- places at once. There is no way you can get it all done on your own. See if your nanny or babysitter can help out around the holidays with little tasks. Of course, you may want to slip a little bit extra in her holiday bonus as a thank you. And don't overburden her with chores; childcare should still be her top priority.
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Here are a few suggestions for places where you may be able to rely on your nanny.
Keep Calm and Carry On
The holidays are practically synonymous with stress. Between buying gifts, preparing for holiday meals or traveling out of town to visit relatives, the stress level can get pretty high. A nanny or babysitter can provide invaluable help by keeping the kids calm and maintaining structure.
"They can help kids to follow the routines you use during the rest of the year," says Stephanie Felzenberg, a nanny and executive editor of the Be the Best Nanny based in Upper Montclair, New Jersey. "Sticking with routines goes a long way to keeping the kids relaxed during the holidays, and helps keep them out of their parents' hair."
Your nanny can plan one-on-one activities, winter outings or special projects to keep children calm as well. Have materials for craft projects on hand and show your babysitter where they are located.
Whether it's dropping off a package at the post office or picking up dry cleaning before the company party, asking nannies to help out with small errands isn't an unusual request.
"I like to go above and beyond, and I'll help out with extra tasks," Felzenberg says. But she stresses that parents should ask the nanny instead of simply assigning extra tasks. Again, she should be focused on your children.
Prepare for Holiday Performances
Does your daughter need a costume? Does your son need help learning his lines for the holiday play? Ask your nanny or babysitter to help with behind-the-scenes details.
Decorate the House
Yes, you love trimming the tree, setting out decorations and baking sugar cookies with your little ones. But there are so many ways to deck your halls, that it's hard to check them all off your list. Have your nanny step in. There are lots of things that will be fun for her to do with your children, like setting out that50-piece holiday train set.
"I like to have my favorite babysitter make gingerbread houses with the kids," says Heather Gibbs Flett, author of the blog Rookie Moms. "It's fun for them and relieves me of the clean-up and possible sugar overdose."
As much as you enjoy heading to the crowded noisy mall during the height of the holiday shopping chaos, this might be one task your nanny can take over. She can bring your child to see Santa, wait in the long line and take notes as your child reveals the ever-important Christmas wish list.
Help Out at Parties
Get a last-minute invitation to a holiday party or want to throw a shindig of your own? Consider enlisting the help of your nanny or babysitter. See if they would mind staying late to take care of the children. If the party is at your house, ask your caregiver or hire a babysitter to watch your guests' children, too.
Assist with (Light) Housekeeping
Asking your nanny to also be a continual housekeeper may be stretching your relationship -- and her job responsibilities -- a bit too far. But she may be open to a few household chores around the holidays if you are extremely busy. Even just ensuring a craft project is cleaned up and put away after use can help keep the home tidy.
"Whether to ask depends on the nanny's style and usual pitch-in attitude, and also depends on the nanny-employer relationship up to then," says Janice St. Clair, a Boston-based nanny and founder of Boston Area Nanny Support Group.
Generate Gift Ideas for Family Members
A nanny or babysitter can help children think of gift ideas for grandparents, other family members and even you. By helping children brainstorm gifts, St. Clair notes that parents "will also receive surprises rather than help their children with their own gifts." Whether it's a gift that can be purchased at a store or something homemade, caregivers can help children consider the recipient's interests before picking out an appropriate gift.
Wrap It Up
If you need presents wrapped, consider asking your nanny or babysitter to help out. If she agrees, have a system set up where presents are clearly labeled with the recipient's name. Your children might want to pitch in as well, so keep their presents hidden.
Stamp and Seal
One of the most time-consuming tasks this time of year is writing out holiday cards to all of your friends and family -- including people you haven't seen since your wedding 15 years ago. Once you sign the cards and address the envelopes, ask your nanny to seal them closed and add stamps and address lapels. This is an easy chore she can do while kids are napping or busy with homework.
Remember, the holidays don't need to be a time of constant stress and falling short. By asking your nanny or babysitter to help out, you can knock more tasks off your to-do list. Just remember to say thanks to your nanny if she goes above and beyond this holiday season.
Megan Horst-Hatch is a mother, runner, baker, gardener, knitter, and other words that end in "-er." Her work can be found here.