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Choosing a Good Nanny Over Daycare – 2 Scenarios For Working Women to Consider
One of the best investments a working woman can make is having a good nanny. A good nanny is worth every penny in the quality of life she can provide for you and your baby.
Above all, babies need love. Many people place a high value on socializing, but in my experience, socializing is overrated. Providing your child with consistent, loving care is far more important and will result in well-adjusted children and a work-life balance you can enjoy. The following two scenarios are actual scenarios. They are just two of many that I have witnessed.
Dustin has been in daycare since he was one year old because his parents felt it was important for him to be socialized. At daycare, he learned to bite other children and throw huge tantrums to get the attention he wanted from his harassed caregivers. Today, Dustin is 4 years old and he juggles between preschool and daycare while his younger brother, Russ (1.5 years old), stays at daycare all day. Their father drops Dustin off at kindergarten most mornings and Dustin’s grandmother picks up the two boys from daycare most evenings and shuttles Dustin to daycare at noon. Their mother drops Russ off at daycare in the morning on her way to work.
They all spend a lot of time sitting in traffic. In the evening, their mother asks the boys to watch television while she cooks dinner as they always fight unless they are constantly watched. She doesn’t trust Dustin not to seriously hurt Russ and she feels like a referee. They have about an hour together over dinner before she leaves them to watch more TV while she does the laundry, cleans the house, and prepares lunches for the next day. Bedtime is usually a disaster because both boys hate going to bed since they’ve had virtually no time with their parents. Their dad usually takes care of Dustin while mom puts Russ to bed.
Dustin constantly gets into trouble at preschool. Recently, his parents were called by school officials who were concerned about his behavior, particularly the way he deliberately bullied and hurt other children. They sense that he is angry all the time and say that he needs more “mommy” and “daddy” time, which means he doesn’t feel like he gets enough love. and attention. Meanwhile, Dustin’s parents feel their family life is spiraling out of control. They barely manage the logistics of having two kids and couldn’t get by without Dustin’s grandmother’s constant help shuttling them from place to place. They are very disappointed in Dustin because of the way he picks on his little brother and refuses to do anything they ask of him. Worse, Russ also begins to act. Although their top priority is to socialize the boys, they rarely have play dates and they don’t like hanging out with boys because they behave so badly.
Claire’s parents found a good nanny just before her mom had to go back to work when she was four months old. Her parents’ main requirement was to find someone who would focus on Claire; both her development and to give her unconditional love. Claire’s mother hated the idea that her baby would love someone else, but since she couldn’t stop working, she wanted her baby to feel loved and safe above all else. Today, their nanny takes care of both Claire (now four years old) and Mia (two years old). Claire’s parents always miss the morning commute because they just tell their nanny the night before what time they need her the next day. Also, if both parents are stuck working late, they just call their nanny to let her know. During the day, the girls play outside, experience nature, ride tricycles, push their strollers around the neighborhood, draw, paint, make things with playdough and many other enriching activities. Claire and Mia are fed healthy food that their nanny cooks at home or prepares for little picnics at the park. She takes them to swimming lessons, the Discovery Museum and play dates.
Due to the constant individual attention, both girls behave very well. Because their parents feel that the girls are learning more with their current routine than they will in preschool, they decided to skip preschool. While the girls take afternoon naps, their nanny cleans the house and does the laundry. She also defrosts and begins to prepare the food for dinner before leaving when mom or dad arrives home. When their mother comes home, she cooks dinner while Claire and Mia read and play in their playroom. The girls rarely bicker as they are used to playing together and sharing. If they want more attention, their mother places them at the kitchen table with her where they talk, color or read. After dinner, and because most of the chores are already done, they all play together for an hour before it’s time to get ready for bed. The girls enjoy their bedtime routine as they all get ready together. Because they share a bedroom, their parents can usually hear the girls chatting together for a few minutes before falling asleep. Claire and Mia’s parents love their family and the time they spend together. They feel that both girls are well-adjusted, well-behaved and happy to go on family outings. Both girls are comfortable playing with other children of the same age, as well as younger children, older children and adults.
In my experience (raising three children close in age), my nanny is worth her weight in gold. I couldn’t manage both my career and my family without her. Besides, she loves my children and I can trust that she would throw herself in front of a bus to save them if something happened. We are a team, my husband, my nanny and I when it comes to raising our lovely children.
Not all nannies are created equal. You need to find one you can trust who will provide your children with lots of attention, good advice and lots of love. Keep looking until you find your perfect nanny. There are many online resources for finding nannies, such as http://www.craigslist.org and http://www.sittercity.com. There are also local agencies, although they can be expensive. I have found that the best resource is word of mouth, which often leads you to a retired teacher or someone who becomes available because their current young children are adults and in school.
I have seen and interviewed many nannies for myself and for friends. Ask open-ended questions when interviewing them to find out what their natural style is. I always ask them to tell me what a typical day looks like with their proteges. That way, you can find someone whose natural style best matches yours. I recommend having at least a week of overlap with a new nanny so you can see her in action and make sure your wishes are understood. I also recommend coming at random times during the first month or two to see if things are as they should be. Finally, if you have trust issues, set up a nanny cam. My husband installed one hidden in a bookcase in our playroom as well as in the nursery. We stopped using it after a few months when we saw that our instructions were being followed. Some of the newer nanny/surveillance cameras can be set up so you can log in from any computer and see what’s going on in your home at any time of the day.
Copyright 2010 Julie Fagan
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