Category Archive: Uncategorized

  1. Refer a Family During Our 12 Days of Giveaways!

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    Can you believe it? There are only 12 days left until Christmas!

    At SmartSitting, we’re celebrating with 12 days of extra special giveaways! Each day, we’ll have an exciting giveaway up for grabs. Today, it’s an awesome language learning DVD from our partners at Little Pim. If you remember, we did a blog post about Little Pim not too long ago!

    So how do you get these awesome gifts during the next 12 days? It’s easy. Tell a friend about SmartSitting! If they fill out a family application today and book a babysitter by 1/31/14, we’ll send you a language learning DVD from Little Pim in the language of your choice. If they fill out a family application tomorrow, then you’ll get tomorrow’s unique holiday giveaway gift!

    The greatest part is that by filling out a Family Application and listing you as the referrer, you and your friend will immediately get a $25 credit to SmartSitting good throughout 2014. That’s our holiday gift to you, so make sure you check our Facebook and Twitter every day for our daily giveaway!

    There are just a few rules to note:

    1) The $25 credit may only be applied towards agency fees (not babysitter’s rates).
    2) To receive the credit, your friend must fill out our family application and list you as the referrer.
    3) To receive our giveaway gift, your friend must book a sitter by 1/31/14.
    4) If your friend doesn’t book by 1/31/14, your credit is still valid!
    5) There’s a limit to four credits and gifts per family.
    6) Gifts will be sent in February of 2014 once bookings are complete.

    If you’ve got any questions, just go ahead and e-mail us here:

    Happy Holidays from SmartSitting!

  2. Kids and Foreign Languages: As Good Together As Peanut Butter and Jelly!

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    Foreign Language for Kids

    Foreign Language for Kids ages 0-6 has never been easier.

    I might seem like a pretty standard American girl to you, what with a name like Suzie and all, but I’m actually a first generation American with a very, very Russian family. My parents both grew up in the mother land and met in a Russian restaurant in New York in their 20’s. One day, my mom turned to me and said “I could have never imagined I would end up with two English speaking babies!”

    To be more accurate, by the age of 3, I was speaking full sentences in Russian, Polish and English. The Russian came from my family, the Polish from our nanny, and the English from a clothing designer that rented out our garden apartment and always let me come downstairs and play. These three languages were completely interchangeable for me and I moved between them naturally. Over the years, English became my main language though I’ve retained most of my Russian language through repetition at home.

    I know first-hand just how easy it is for a child to manage all those languages at such a young age. It makes me excited to one day give that gift to my own kids. One of our partners, Little Pim, has it figured out. They are busy transforming babies, toddlers and preschoolers into little language experts during those perfect moments when kids don’t even realize they are learning. Their award-winning program uses music, videos, board books, flashcards, and an adorable panda named Little Pim. Basically, kids learn languages by having fun, interacting with Pim, and repeating 360 or so words and phrases. Their language program caters towards really young ages (age 6 and under), to catch kids at the optimal time for acquiring language. An added bonus is that the program is so sophisticated that everyone around the house will pick up new words too. Families can also request a free Little Pim training for their babysitters and nannies.

    I feel fortunate to have grown up with a second language in my home. It made me curious about other cultures and stimulated my learning at an early age. Even now, I have a knack for picking up words and phrases whenever I travel abroad and not to brag, but even I get compliments on my pronunciation! Language played a big role in making me who I am today, and it’s something I’m going to pass on for sure. The only question that remains is which Little Pim videos am I going to use? The series is available in 11 languages (Spanish, French, Chinese, Italian, German, Japanese, Arabic, Hebrew, Russian, English, and Portuguese). Eeny, meeny, miny, moe? I think I just picked German!

    For more information about the different language programs Little Pim offers, please visit SmartSitting families and babysitters receive a special discounted rate.

    -By Suzie Z. 

  3. Fair Pay for Nannies and Hiring Male Babysitters: Leaning in to Child Care

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    In a fantastic essay and video for the Wall Street Journal, Charlotte Alter says that “Hiring a male babysitter is one of the most feminist things a parent can do.” I couldn’t agree more. Add in “viewing and compensating nannies fairly” and you’ve touched on the two most important, and rarely discussed, feminist issues in child care.

    The bias against male babysitters is rarely addressed, but when examined, it’s easy to see that the prejudice parallels the same problematic dichotomy between motherhood and fatherhood. Alter aptly addresses the many issues caused by the gender-imbalance – when men aren’t babysitters, they aren’t educated about being fathers – and therefore not expected to do their share of child care. Likewise, future generations of children are taught that child care just isn’t a man’s ‘natural’ duty.

    Viewing child care as the biological duty and natural gift of women also accounts for the unfair, yet commonly accepted, practices when it comes to wages and paying on the books.

    Every time a new babysitter or nanny joins the SmartSitting agency, I tell each candidate to expect the job to be paid on the books. I always further clarify that payment will work like any other job; the rate you are hired at is actually higher than your take home rate. Although many of the nannies we interview react positively to this information, the majority are surprised. Likewise, it can be a struggle to get families to pay on the books and guarantee a salary and paid vacation and sick days. Important benefits like health insurance are still, unfortunately, largely unheard of for nannies in NYC.

    On one hand, as Sheryl Sandberg notes in Lean In, it’s hard to blame most parents for fighting against providing hefty salaries and benefits. Child care is extremely expensive and America is still far behind many European companies when it comes to fair practices for maternity and paternity leave. It’s financially and emotionally draining for a working mother to have to forgo most, if not all, of her salary to pay her nanny. But when it comes to setting a child care budget, I would urge parents to think about their child care budget as more than just that – a budget. A nanny’s salary is a multi-faceted issue – it affects the dedication and quality of care the nanny provides, the long-term commitment she/he can make to the family, and often, the nanny’s ability to support his or her own family. And as Sandberg points out, paying for child care is more than just a simple expense parents incur – by hiring a nanny, a working mom (or dad) is investing in her or his own career as well.

    Last year, I was on the phone with a prospective client who shouted indignantly at me when I told her that the nannies in our agency generally charge salaries of $40,000 – $52,000 per year. Our nanny agency accepts only 7% of applicants and refers the most experienced, reliable and emotionally intelligent nannies – those rightfully commanding the higher salaries. While it’s certainly understandable for parents to be frustrated by the unfair situation many working moms find themselves in when it comes to affording quality childcare (especially in cities such as New York), it is equally frustrating when parents don’t see the value in a nanny’s full-time work and salary. For the top 10% of well experienced and educated workers in many other industries, a range of $40,000 – $52,000 would be viewed as low – so why should it be different when it comes to child care?

    In a society that is faced with so many chicken-or-the-egg battles when it comes to undoing long-held, patriarchal customs, it is important to unravel and address the real causes behind common practices such as nanny hires. We need to teach the next generation differently, and it starts in the home. So when you hire your next nanny, think twice about the salary you offer her – or him.

  4. Fun Arts and Crafts Projects for Kids: March 2013 SmartSitting Meet Up Recap

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    At last week’s meet up, SmartSitters learned some fun arts and crafts projects for kids, in a workshop led by Susan Berman. Susan is an artist, an art educator, a mother and the brain behind a neat company called SouvenarteBooks, which preserves children’s artwork in the form of beautiful, museum quality, hardcover coffee table books.

    In our discussion, SmartSitters learned how art can improve problem solving skills, fine motor skills, hand-eye coordination, creative thinking, and more. Our babysitters had fun doing the arts and crafts projects themselves, using tooth picks, modeling clay, and no specific instructions. The results were fresh and surprising, and everyone left feeling relaxed and inspired.

    If you’re looking for a great gift idea, spend a few minutes on to learn more about Susan’s custom keepsakes.

    Souvenarte Books support quality and creative childcare for families and is happy to offer a 15% discount on any order that mentions SmartSitting.

  5. 5 Recommended Interview Questions for Your Prospective Nanny or Babysitter

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    A nanny or a babysitter interview may not take place in an office, but it is still very important to ask lots of great questions. With the right preparation, you can conduct a highly professional interview even in a casual setting, ensuring that you get the answers you need to make an informed hiring decision.

    If you’re working with SmartSitting, the person you’re about to interview is already a good fit with regards to scheduling, salary, and previous experience or transferable skills. (If this isn’t the case, make sure you consider these three important factors before beginning the interview process).

    At SmartSitting, we interview babysitters and nannies every single day and have worked tirelessly to create an interview narrative that is both enjoyable for the candidate and extremely informative for us. Here are some great questions that we use, which you can ask your prospective nanny or babysitter:

    1. In two minutes or less, tell me your life story.

    Why ask: This helps lay the foundation for the entire interview without focusing on specifics too early in the conversation. It also gives you a chance to connect with the candidate on a personal level; perhaps you grew up in the same hometown or enjoy some of the same hobbies.

    2. Take me through your professional childcare positions one by one, starting with the most recent one.

    Why ask: As with corporate jobs, having some experience in the field doesn’t prepare a candidate for all possible positions in that field. You want an in-depth view of each candidate’s past childcare experience to make sure he or she is ready to handle the many aspects of the position with your family. Don’t just ask if the candidate has a reference from a position; ask what the reference would say about the candidate. This question often produces some of the most honest and helpful responses during the interview, as the candidate knows that you will follow up to verify his or her response.

    SmartSitting Tip: Make sure you feel like you know the answers to these follow up questions. If you don’t, then ask!

    • What were the children’s ages?
    • What were your daily responsibilities?
    • How often did you work with the family (everyday, once a week, twice a month, for a summer)?
    • How long did you work with the family? (ask for years, like 2003-2009)
    • Why did you stop working for them?
    • Do you have a reference from this job? What do you think the family would say your strengths and weaknesses are?

    3. Was there ever an extended time where you weren’t working with children? If yes, what were you doing during that time?

    Why ask: For a job that takes place in your home with your children, it’s important not to leave any question unanswered. Make sure to cross-reference this response with the candidate’s resume, which you should have on hand during the interview.

    4. Where do you see yourself next year? How about in 5 years?

    Why ask: This will give you an idea of the candidate’s goals, which might be an indicator of how long he or she will stick around. Try your best not to turn this into a leading question, so that you get a more honest and realistic response.

    5. Why are you looking for a babysitting position? What other types of positions are you interviewing for right now?

    Why ask: This is an opportunity to gauge how genuine the candidate is in his or her interest in working with children. Watch out for negative responses (‘because I hate the restaurant industry’) or vague responses that lack much forethought. This question allows the best babysitters to shine; their eyes light up and their answers are personal, genuine, and sincere.

    Some other questions for your nanny/babysitter interview:

    •  What were your favorite and least favorite parts of a particular position?
    • What do you think are your strengths and weaknesses?
    • What other obligations or commitments do you have that affect your schedule?
    • Describe a conflict or misunderstanding with a previous employer and explain how you handled the situation.
    • Do you feel comfortable with the responsibilities associated with this position?

    SmartSitting Tip: Don’t always stick to the script! Paying close attention and asking follow up questions will give you a much better sense of the person you are interviewing. Try to keep the interview as professional as possible; although it is important to establish good rapport with the candidate, don’t feel nervous about asking tough questions! If the candidate does seem like a match, make sure to spend time at the end of the interview letting him or her know that you are very interested, and ‘selling’ the job! Be honest, open, and positive, and give a detailed explanation of the position, leaving time to answer the candidate’s questions.

  6. Free Consultation with The Nanny Doctor, Our New Partner!

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    We are so excited to be working with Lindsay Heller, The Nanny Doctor and are happy to offer every family we work with a complimentary hour of her services! Lindsay, known as The Nanny Doctor, has been working with families and their nannies for more than a decade.

    In addition to being a licensed clinical psychologist, Lindsay was a well-respected nanny for over 10 years in both the Los Angeles and San Francisco areas. Now, through her nanny consulting services, Lindsay works in conjunction with families and their agencies to provide a unique specialized service to help each family in finding the best possible match for their family. She aids, not only in the interviewing and hiring process, but also with the important transition of introducing a new person into the household. She stands firmly beside each of her clients throughout their journey and custom tailors a plan of action for each individual family. No nanny issue is too big or small!

  7. 3 Things to Consider Before Starting Your Nanny Search

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    Finding the right babysitter or nanny for your children can seem a bit overwhelming, especially in New York City. With so many variables and moving pieces, where do you even begin? Many times, families waste time getting to know candidates that just aren’t the right fit from the start.

    Believe it or not, the nanny search can be a smooth, even pleasant, process and it all starts with you. Before starting your nanny search, it can be incredibly helpful to take some time to clearly understand your own boundaries and areas of flexibility. Start with these three factors and your nanny search for the right babysitter or nanny will be more efficient and less stressful:

    1. Your personal needs:

    Are you looking for a babysitter once or twice a month as plans come up? Do you need a regular babysitter to pick your kids up from school every day? Perhaps you’re looking for help on the weekends? Does your ideal babysitter make meals from scratch, or does proficiency in the art of microwaving suffice? Do you want homework help or a babysitter that can focus on imaginative play? How long of a commitment do you need?

    Before you start your nanny search, outline specific job responsibilities and decide on your negotiable and non-negotiable needs. A little flexibility in your ideal babysitter or nanny requirements can drastically open up your candidate pool.

    SmartSitting Tip: The more scheduling regularity you can provide, the more likely you are to find a babysitter you can count on. For families looking for a consistent babysitter, we recommend offering a weekly salary or a minimum number of hours per week. Families looking for occasional babysitters with no set schedule should have a team of 3-4 on call babysitters with varying availability.

    2. Your start date:

    Do you have two days, two weeks, or two months to find a babysitter or nanny? Do you have a definitive start date, or is there some flexibility? Starting a nanny search a few weeks in advance is ideal. Too much lead time can work against you, as most candidates are looking for positions beginning immediately. If your needs are very specific (for example, if you need a nanny fluent in two languages or a regular afternoon babysitter who can commit to 15 or fewer hours per week), start your nanny search as far in advance as possible and keep your start date flexible.

    If you need a reliable babysitter or nanny very quickly, use a trusted childcare referral agency that conducts interviews, background checks and reference checks. On short notice, a childcare agency can be a valuable teammate, only sending resumes for qualified candidates that fit your specific needs. Some babysitter agencies will also coordinate your interviews. Making a great match on short notice can be done if you work together and respond to communication quickly. Many agencies, including SmartSitting, conduct searches free of charge – so if you don’t book a candidate through a babysitter agency, you don’t incur any additional costs.

    SmartSitting Tip: Always plan a paid trial of at least 3 hours before formally offering a candidate a position.

    3. Your ideal budget:

    Babysitter and nanny rates in Manhattan and Brooklyn generally range from $12-$25 per hour, depending on the number of hours per week, the number of kids, and the specific job requirements. Employer taxes should be factored in if you plan to pay your childcare provider more than $1,800 per year.

    Hourly rates of $15-20 per hour are standard for sporadic babysitting needs. Families should discuss late night travel compensation with their babysitters to make sure they can come and go safely during late evenings.

    Regular part time or full time committed positions are most successful when paid with a weekly or annual salary, and an arrangement that allows for a certain number of sick days and paid vacation time. This will attract more experienced, more reliable childcare providers to your position. This also encourages babysitters to stay at home when they are sick – keeping them and your family healthy and happy!

    Childcare agencies can help refer qualified babysitters or nannies within days. If you use their services, budget for an additional 15% in annual costs for long-term placements and an additional 30% for sporadic needs.

    SmartSitting Tip: While almost any budget can be accommodated, competitive rates give you the benefit of selecting top childcare providers for your children. The most experienced childcare providers are able to pick and choose among many different positions before selecting a family to work with. If you are having a difficult time finding the right babysitter or nanny, consider changing your search perimeters. Flexibility with hourly rates and salary, start and end time, and commitment length can open your candidate pool significantly. For an ongoing, part-time commitment, we recommend a budget of $400-$600 per week. For an ongoing, full-time commitment, we recommend a budget of $700-$1000 per week.

    Know your needs and manage your expectations. It’s a winning combination!

  8. Crafts for Kids!

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    What a smart idea! We love it!

    crafts-for-kids crafts-for-kids-2


    Ever since Poppy broke her leg, we’ve been relying far too much on the t.v. to keep us entertained. Unfortunately, all this t.v. time isn’t good for any of us. P freaks out when you say “no” to her favorite shows and, frankly, I’m over it. So today, we watched one episode of Diego over breakfast then turned it off and opted to play Diego instead. It’s amazing what a printer, some laminating paper, an old box, and a pair of scissors can create. P’s been happily playing with her new Diego “dolly” set for the last hour, rescuing animals left and right.

  9. SmartSitting Monthly Meet-up!

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    These great babysitters have worked with over 20 of our families!

  10. Halloween Fun While Babysitting

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    What do you love about working with your SmartKids?

    I could be biased, but these are possibly the smartest, most adorable boys on the planet! They are very affectionate and have a curiosity for life that us adults would be jealous of. I always look forward to the next time I’m going to see them, they are pretty irresistible!

    You’re so artistic and talented in the face-painting and cookie decorating departments! What was your favorite part of getting the kids into the Halloween spirit?

    Probably that they were so excited. They wanted to do all the activities at one time! Mom definitely got them jazzed for their day of Halloween activities before I arrived, and I got to see all that excitement come to fruition. I always loved that my mom was artistic and shared special moments with us kids growing up, so it was really fun being able to share my artistic talents with my SmartKids.

    How do you get your SmartKids as excited on any old regular day?

    I’m always trying to remember what I liked to play as a kid. When they are tired of books or toys, there is still so much we can do with our imaginations.  I try to remember all of the make believe games that I used to like growing up and incorporate them into our everyday routines.