The INA's Weekly Brief

2015 INA Conference Registration Prices Announcement



Here it is!  The much anticipated announcement of the 2015 INA Conference Registration Fees!

Registration Includes:

  • Thursday, Friday, Saturday conference workshops
  • Round Trip Coach Transportation to/from Cancun International Airport
  • networking breaks
  • Service Award Pin ceremony
  • Nanny of the Year Awards banquet
  • Annual Meeting dinner
  • Opening Reception and Closing Reception

This year, we will have three tiers of pricing for registration.   Note that First-time attendee  discount is ONLY Available during Early Bird Registration.  

Also, this will be the last year that we offer First time attendee discount to new members.   So now is the perfect time to take advantage of membership and discount conference rates.

2015 INA Conference Registration Rates

Member Full Registration New Member / First Time Attendee Non-Member
November 1 – December 31, 2014 $295.00 $262.50 $395.00
January 1 – March 15, 2015 $395.00 Discount N/A $495.00
After March 15, 2015      $525.00 Discount N/A $625.00


Registration begins November 1, 2014.    If you are new to INA or joined INA after April 1, 2014 and have never attended an INA Annual Conference, you are eligible to receive a significant conference discount during the early bird registration period.  Please contact the INA Membership Services Office at 888.878.1477 or by emailing to verify your eligibility if you are unsure if you qualify.

Members will need to be logged into their INA account prior to registering.  If you do not know your login information, please contact Carrie Ann Taylor, INA Office Administrator PRIOR to November 1 to secure your login credentials.

The Iberostar Cancun is an all-inclusive resort, all meals, beverages will be covered with your room reservation.

Cancellations:   INA Conference Registration is refundable, minus a $50 processing fee if cancelled by March 15, 2015.   After March 15 – No Refunds.   You must submit your request for cancellation in writing.


Angela Riggs, adapted from Under the Child Care Umbrella textbook Chapter 15

Under the Child Care Umbrella Angela Riggs Nanny Resource

Available Exclusively through the Sullivan University Bookstore

Thinking on your feet, utilizing your time well and integrating educational and enriching experiences are all necessary when caring for children. If you do these things well, it will set you above others. This is an attribute of a dedicated professional nanny and makes you more valuable as a teacher of children.

Use your environment and community resources to make special teachable moments for children. Research tells us that young children learn through experiences that impact their senses. Hands-on learning, relating events to existing experiences, knowledge and emotions, and the repetition of experiences aids in memory retention. Traveling with children opens up a world of discovery that can do all of these and more. However, you don’t have to go far to extend learning beyond the classroom. You can create these teachable moments in your backyard, transitioning from one point to another or while out on local outings.

Here are some key experiences in specific subject areas that you might include in your teachable moments:

Reading Readiness:

  • Phonological awareness — Letter sounds and letter recognition
  • Print awareness – signs in the environment, symbols, meaning, menus, and advertisements
  • Language development – teaching new vocabulary words, new languages, expressive and receptive language skills, cultural or vocabulary specific for countries and regions

money, distance, size, proportion, computation, problem solving, spatial relationships, building, cooking, numbers, time, sequencing, ordering, comparing, and measuring

Compare and contrast, observations, experiments, physical science, life science, systems, models & diagrams, problem solving, weather, and environments

Cultural Diversity:
Food, religion, housing, holidays, events, festivals, ceremonies, life of the people, and languages

Social Studies:
Geology and landforms, geography, government, transportation, world events, history, and energy
Other Skill Areas:
Problem solving, decision making, practical living skills, and critical thinking

How should you initiate conversations and extend the learning?

Using Bloom’s Taxonomy, you can maximize those teachable moments. Here are some specific tips for conversation starters to extend the learning and build key experiences:

Describe what you:

  • see
  • hear
  • taste
  • touch
  • feel (emotions or beliefs) that this experience/place brings about…


  • new experiences to what you know or see at home
  • sizes, colors and shapes of objects
  • how things work


  • the surroundings — why the buildings are constructed with the materials of choice for this region
  • why the plant life survives in this environment
  • different abilities needed for animals to thrive in various habitats


  • is this a great place to visit and why
  • this activity or rate it on a 1 to 10 scale
  • could this be a good place to recommend to a friend or younger sibling
  • how would you change something here to make it better

Synthesis this new information by looking for patterns in the

  • environment
  • culture
  • people
  • modes of transportation


  • the information gathered from outings into school projects and writing portfolio pieces
  • use photographs from adventures beyond the home to build learning centers, file folder games, and scrape books that promote language development as well as help to build visuals that aid in retention of new knowledge to use later or on rainy days
  • collect brochures and children’s books on the topics to explore further

Nanny Resource provided by the International Nanny AssociationNanny resources are provided regularly via the INA Weekly Brief. We encourage you to subscribe on the left to receive this material weekly via email, and to share with your personal “Nanny Tribe.” Education is a key part of the INA’s mission to promote excellence in in-home childcare.

Angela Riggs Sullivan UniversityA special THANK YOU to INA member Angela Riggs, Early Childhood Education Associate Dean, Sullivan University, Louisville KY for sharing these resources with the INA.

Angela serves on the INA Board of Directors and chairs the Education Committee.

2014 conference hotel rates announcement

INA Conference 2015 – Learning and Networking Caribbean Style!

INA is excited to share with you these exclusive hotel rates for our 30th Annual Conference.  The Iberostar Cancun is a stunning location, offering pools, golf, spa, nightly entertainment, lavish restaurants and buffets and now, these amazing rates you won’t find anywhere else.

Ocean View –
per night
Ocean View with Balcony –
per night
Junior Suite Villa –
per night
  • 1 adult $165
  • 1 adult $195
  • 1 adult $235
  • 2 people $120 per person ($240 total)
  • 2 people $135 per person ($270 total)
  • 2 people $155 per person ($310 total)
  • 3 people $110 per
    person ($330 total)
  • 3 people $120 per person ($360 total)
  • 3 people $145 per person ($435 total)

It should be noted that INA has worked very hard behind the scenes to secure these rates for attendees.   Given our International locale in Cancun, attendees must be prepared that a few extra steps will be required when making reservations, and that the hotel sets the rate rules for each room. We’ve broken down the rates and policies for you below.

Please read carefully, so when it’s time to make your reservation, you are prepared.

Children under 4 years – Free.

Children 4 years – 12 years, $55 per night.

Children 13 years and older – Adult rate

No more than 3 ADULTS in a room. No more than 4 people in a room.


1 adult / 3 children
2 adults / 2 children
3 adults / 1 child

If children are staying in a room, minimum one adult must be in the room with them.

PLEASE READ ALL CAREFULLY.   Rates are in US Dollars. The room rate DOES NOT Include your conference registration.   That will be a separate fee, to be announced at a later date.

All Inclusive: includes tax, lodging. Concierge service, in-room mini bar, in-room TV, 4 specialty restaurants, 2 buffets. Nightly Live entertainment.  24 hour room service, alcohol, pool and beach waiter, fitness center and classes.  Complimentary basic wireless high speed internet for all group participants.

Rate is based on availability, so book your rooms early!  First come, first served.  Should the INA room block sell out, there is no guarantee that the resort will make additional rooms available at this rate. Group rate is available FIVE days before and FIVE days after INA conference dates. 

Rooms are fully refundable if cancelled within 21 days of first night stay.  No shows will be charged a one night stay.

Available rooms are:

One King bed with pull out sofa sleeper for one person.
Two Queen Beds

Rollaway available for King room only.  Additional cost $30 for entire stay.
Rollaway is NOT available for Queen Rooms.

Booking Your Room The hotel is setting up the reservation procedures to include our discount code – we expect that to be announced within the next week to 10 days…. stay tuned!

iberostar 2

INA Exclusive Golf Package: Iberostar Cancun provides an 18 hole Par 72 Championship Golf Course on site.  INA Conference attendees have access to these exclusive rates:

$89 per person includes: Cart for 2 Beverages on cart Preferential Tee times
$59 per person includes: 2 pm – closing Includes all of the above Clubs, Shoes can be rented.

Helpful tips: Most credit card companies charge a foreign transaction fee.   Check with your credit card company in advance to see if they charge, and at what amount.   This will add to your conference expenses and help when budgeting.  Here is a listing of credit cards that do not charge a foreign transaction fee.

We recommend booking your stay for your anticipated travel dates. Adjustments can be made once you know your final plans.   Changes must be made prior to 21 days from date of first stay.

HOTEL TRANSPORTATION INA will be providing transportation to and from the airport to Iberostar Cancun. This is included in your conference registration rate.  Attendees MUST register IN ADVANCE to access the service.     Details and registration will be provided at a later date.

A special thank you to Eva Vega-Olds of the Anti-Defamation League for sharing her expertise with INA members. We encourage you to SHARE this post – whether via social media or in your business’ or organization’s blogs and client communications.

Cyberbullying is the intentional and repetitive mistreatment of others perpetrated through the use of technology.

A Nanny's Guide to CyberbullyingCyberbullying can cause tremendous emotional stress because it can be ubiquitous, far-reaching and is often committed anonymously. In a 2013 survey of 12-18 year olds, 24% of youth reported being cyberbullied in their lifetime[1], and 88% percent reported seeing someone else be mean or cruel on social media[2].

A nanny and other adult caregivers have a responsibility to support not only targets of cyberbullying but to help foster a sense of cyber-civility and kindness online. An important start is to have conversations with youth about the topic, which can be difficult because the majority of youth report that they don’t tell adults in their life about their experiences with cyberbullying[3].

Many youth believe there will be negative repercussions if they tell an adult about what is happening to them, especially if that adult holds power in their life. Among the range of negative repercussions youth fear are ineffective adult intervention as well as limiting or taking away their technology, which for many youth means taking away their social life.

Tapping into one’s own experiences with bullying can be useful in showing empathy and starting a conversation about addressing hurtful behavior.   From there, here are some suggestions about what adults can do to intervene effectively and positively in incidents of cyberbullying— and some things not to do.

  • Don’t tell the child to ignore the bullying. Cyberbullying can happen at any time of day with or without the actual presence of the target. Ignoring it does not stop aggressors from posting or sending mean or bias related comments. They shouldn’t reply to the messages, but rather work with them to strategize ways to address the situation.
  • Resist trying to provide a rationale for why it is happening by oversimplifying the issue or rely on false information or myths. For example, one myth is that all aggressors in bullying suffer from low self-esteem. In reality, there is data to support that people who bully actually have high opinions of themselves.
  • Provide support and encouragement, rather than blaming or shaming a young person.  Often targets are blamed for the bullying because they act in ways that are perceived as “different” or because they are unabashed about their identity.  Bullying based on differences is the result of the aggressor’s bias against that kind of difference, not because the target provoked it.
  • Don’t agree to untenable solutions.  Often youth will beg adults not to report the situation or do anything at all.  Listen to their needs and include their opinions in your process, but do not agree to solutions which do not work towards resolving this situation and ending the bullying. Threats and any exchange of nude photographs require contacting the proper authorities.
  • Be familiar with the variety of strategies available to address cyberbullying.  Confronting the aggressors is only one of the many possible solutions for addressing online cruelty. There are many ways to report and address cyberbullying, often anonymously.
  • Encourage the target to develop coping skills, but do not encourage them to retaliate physically or online. Most schools have policies that punish everyone involved in violence and retaliation usually only results in escalation.
  • Read these Internet Guidelines for more technical assistance on how to keep youth in your care safe online.

For more tips on how to prevent or intervene in incidents of bullying and to download some strategies for youth, please visit our bullying and cyberbullying resource page.

Anti-Defamation League

[1] Hinduja, S. and Patchin, J. 2013. Lifetime Cyberbullying Victimization Rates. Cyberbullying Research Center

[2] Lenhart, A., Madden, M., et al. 2011. Teens, Kindness and Cruelty on Social Network Sites. DC: Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project.

[3] Robers, S., Kemp J., and Truman, J. 2013. Indicators of School Crime and Safety: 2012. DC: National Center for Education Statistics, U.S. Department of Education.

INA 30th Annual Conference Hotel

INA Conference 2015 – Learning and Networking Caribbean Style!

INA is excited to share our hotel destination with you all!   Iberostar Cancun is situated on one of Mexico’s most stunning beachfronts, and features a sprawling resort complex that will please all our conference attendees.  This all-inclusive resort features spacious rooms with views of the Caribbean, four specialty restaurants and two buffets.

iberostar 1

Nightly entertainment, recreation option, seven pools, a spa, and an onsite 18-hole championship golf course are just a few of the reasons to plan your stay at the Iberostar Cancun. You won’t want to miss this opportunity to celebrate INA’s 30th Anniversary in this gorgeous location!

iberostar 3

A short walk and bus ride will take you to local shopping, restaurants and nightlife. Make plans and bring the family!  Next week we will announce the AMAZING prices we’ve secured for our attendees and further details you’ll need to know when planning your trip to Cancun.  Let’s make our 30th annual conference not just memorable, let’s make it UNFORGETTABLE.

iberostar 2



Coming Soon!  Registration information and exciting rates only available to conference attendees!  

Nannies, do you and your nanny family have any type of nanny Emergency Plan in place? There are so many different scenarios is which one would be needed! According to the US Department of Homeland Security’s Ready Check program, the keys are to prepare, plan and stay informed.

There is the weather, depending upon where you live; you may need to know what to do in the event of a tornado or earthquake, flooding or blizzards.  Have you and your nanny family sat down and drafted a nanny emergency plan of action? This can include things such as, where to go, what to take with you, what to do if the power goes out or there is no cell service and how to find one another if you are separated.

What about a non-weather related emergency, such as a gas leak or a fire in or near the home you work in. Do you have an established meeting place in your local area? Many times if there is a disaster in the area you provide care, no one will be allowed into that area, so to reunite the children with the parents you will need to take them to a designated meeting place.

There are also evacuations due to gas leaks, train derailments, and other man made disasters. And with the anniversary of 9/11 fast approaching, terrorism remains a concern also. What about an emergency plan, if heaven forbid the parents are in an accident or something happens that prevents them from coming home? Who would you call to notify, who would come and take care of the children or who would you take the children to? It’s important to know this information.

As a child care professional, you need to think of the ‘what ifs’ to be prepared and able to respond in any emergency situation. If your nanny family has not already discussed this with you, bring it up! They will appreciate your foresight and attention to the entire family’s well being.

When you care for children with special needs, you need to do extra emergency planning. The American Academy of Pediatrics has special emergency planning resources for children with special health needs.

Do you have a code word? This can be used if something is seriously wrong and you need the parents ASAP. We often hear about parents and nannies having a code word with school age children, and this same concept can be applied to home emergencies where you do not want to frighten the children but you want to notify the parents right away. You can text the code word quickly and the parents will know what it means.

You can even develop different code words for different situations. This may require a master sheet be kept with you, but it can be done.

Do you carry your ID on you when you are at work? What about identification for the children you care for? What if something happened and you were separated from the children or you were unable to communicate, who would know who you are? What if something happened to you and you are caring for a child that cannot communicate, how is anyone going to know who you are and who the child belongs to? It is beneficial to make a child ID card with the child’s name, parent’s name, contact numbers and any medical conditions or allergies. Carry this on you at all times when you are with the children. Take pictures with your cell phone of key information such as medical insurance cards, allergies and medical conditions – it is easy to recall in an emergency off your camera roll.

The main message is to be prepared. Have a plan of action. Know what to do and where to go in the event of any type of emergency. Know who to contact and in what means, either via text or phone call.

It is wise to be prepared and stay on step ahead!

Have you had to deal with an emergency as a nanny? Share what worked, what didn’t and please help us all be better informed child caregivers.

Sheri Lopez Nanny of the YearA special thank you to INA member and 2014 INA Nanny of the Year Sheri Lopez for contributing this article.

Sheri is very active with INA – in addition to the 2014 NOTY activities such as media interviews and speaking engagements, Sheri also serves on the INA Board of Directors.



Related Links:

Nanny Mandated Reporter of Suspected Child Abuse

Nanny Resource: The Myth of Stranger Danger

Nanny Resource: Working with Parents with Special Needs




The Nanny Tax Conversation: Nanny Agency Tips

You are helping a new client family do a needs assessment prior to beginning the nanny search.  During the course of the conversation you query them about their childcare budget. How much do they plan to spend on their nanny? The family throws out a weekly number that sounds reasonable. You clarify that this is the nanny’s weekly wage, and that this is before taxes? The parents look at each other in puzzled manner, then turn to you and ask “What taxes?

Nanny Agency Tip: Talking About the Nanny TaxEvery nanny agency faces this situation, and how you respond to it can either help you build trust with this family or undermine their faith that your nanny agency is a good resource for their family. You specialize in recruitment. Your primary focus is to match this family with a nanny that they will be delighted with long term. You are not an accountant, nor do you want to be! The nanny tax is complicated. What do you do?

  1. ALIGN YOUR NANNY AGENCY WITH ONE OR MORE INA-MEMBER PAYROLL FIRMS THAT SPECIALIZE IN NANNY TAX COMPLIANCE. These businesses can facilitate the conversations with your clients, answer their questions in detail, connect them with Workers’ Compensation Insurance firms, and help draft a FLSA compliant compensation offers to the nanny.
  2. MAKE SURE YOU AND YOUR NANNY AGENCY TEAM KNOW THE BASICS, AND TRAIN YOUR AGENCY STAFF TO REFER CLIENTS TO YOUR PAYROLL PARTNER(S). Take the time to prepare a quick script for staff to address key points.  The basics include:
    • A nanny is an employee, not an independent contractor. This is established under law, and is not a matter of opinion or a decision that the family and nanny can make together. There are online tools, videos and written advice you can steer your clients too.
    • A family is responsible to report and pay the Social Security and Medicare taxes for their employee, and to contribute to unemployment insurance. The nanny cannot do this herself. Nanny tax compliance is the lawFor budgeting purposes the family can expect to pay roughly 10-12% in employment taxes above the gross agreed upon wage, depending on the state.
    • Workers’ Compensation Insurance protects the family from financial liability should the nanny suffer an accident on the job. (Your nanny tax partners can connect your client with appropriate insurance agencies.)
    • Paying cash under the table is risky for families because when and if the nanny’s job ends the nanny can file for unemployment benefits, which can result in audit and hefty penalties once the state is able to determine the nanny worked for the family.
  1. FACILITATE THE WRITING OF AN FLSA COMPLIANT COMPENSATION AGREEMENT. Federal law establishes that all nannies are hourly employees, and that live-out or come-and-go nannies are entitled to overtime. Your state may have stricter overtime definitions. Putting these details down in writing when the job offer is extended protects all parties – the family, your nanny agency and the nanny – from misunderstandings or even unwitting violations of Federal or state law. Lean on your nanny payroll tax partners for help here – their staff will be happy to help you.
  2. REMIND THE FAMILY THAT A PROFESSIONAL NANNY EXPECTS TO RECEIVE HER WEEKLY PAY IN FULL EVERY WEEK SHE IS AVAILABLE TO WORK, WHETHER THE FAMILY DECIDES TO TAKE A HOLIDAY OR NOT. Follow that up by including this in the compensation agreement. All too many ‘good’ nanny job matches fall apart because there was not clarity at time of hire on this point. The family trusts your nanny agency to provide the necessary guidance that results in a satisfying, long term relationship with their nanny.
  3. FACILITATE THE DOCUMENTATION OF BENEFITS SUCH AS PAID HOLIDAYS AND PAID TIME OFF. Define which Federal holidays the nanny will be paid for. Define vacation and sick time pay if included. A key component of a ‘good’ nanny job match is mutual understanding on benefits and household ‘policies.’ Your nanny agency’s reputation is reinforced when you help the family work through these issues in advance.

A nanny agency builds trust and credibility when the agency provides the client with the advice, tools and partners that both manage the family’s risk and saves the family valuable time. Your agency reputation is enhanced when you guide the family through the hiring process and minimize their time spent on research. Your valuable knowledge and access to expert assistance differentiates your nanny agency from the less professional agency across town and from the national, online databases. Your clients have better things to do with their time!

The following INA-Member Nanny Payroll and Tax Services provide Sponsor Support to our Annual Conference:

GTM Associates HomePay, Provided by Breedlove
HomeWork Solutions Inc.

Find INA-member Nanny Payroll and Tax Services online in our member directory.

INA Nanny Payroll and Tax Services


HomeWork Solutions Nanny Payroll and Tax ServicesA special thank you to INA-member HomeWork Solutions for providing this guidance. HomeWork Solutions offers both household payroll and household payroll tax compliance services to US families on a nationwide basis and has partnered with INA nanny agencies since 1993.

Do you have specialized knowledge, experience or resources that you want to share with your fellow INA members? We encourage you to submit original, informational articles to the INA to be considered for publication. Authors of selected articles will receive attribution in the post. Email your submissions to the INA Office.

Emotional Behaviors in ChildrenBeing a beacon of light for families that need guidance and resources to cope with everyday stress and difficult periods raising young children is a task that is not listed on many nanny job descriptions.  However, parents, nannies and children cannot escape stress or mend a broken heart with a magic band-aid.  During these times, many extended family members, friends and neighbors are eager to help and offer advice and ways to help “fix” the problem.  How can you know who has the “right” advice for your family or your charges? Are there nanny resources available?

Family physicians, pediatricians, therapists and medical professionals are certainly the most credible voices of reason and a first line of defense against serious mental health issues.  Except many matters may fall short of a traumatic event that demands medical attention.

INA-Band-aidWhat can nannies do when a medical doctor is too much and a band-aid is not enough?  What nanny resources exist for caregivers? At Vanderbilt’s Center on the Social and Emotional Foundations for Early Learning, educators, researchers and therapists have created a storehouse of resources to address the social and emotional developmental needs of young children.   These resources include practical strategies, family tools, videos and opportunities to participate in chat sessions. The US Center for Disease Control and Prevention  also recently released an online resource center Essentials for Parenting Toddlers and Preschoolers that also has videos, coaching and practical advice for parents and caregivers. At difficult times, turn to credible resources for advice where the focus addresses on the foundation of what is developmentally age appropriate for young children.

Thank you to INA member Angela Riggs, Early Childhood Education Associate Dean, Sullivan University, Louisville KY for sharing these resources with the INA.

Use caution hiring nanniesThe International Nanny Association is aware of a recent incident involving a nanny in New Jersey who was hired to care for a child for 4 hours. According to sources, the mother found the nanny passed-out, drunk and the child crying and in a soiled diaper. The child was physically uninjured and the nanny was arrested. The family hired the nanny through an online service.

The International Nanny Association acknowledges that online child care services provide a quick and cost efficient way to secure child care. Parents using these online resources, however, assume total responsibility for all caregiver vetting – the websites have iron clad disclaimers that clearly state this. An interview, even an in-person interview, is not sufficient. It is imperative that thorough nanny background screening checks be run on any person one chooses to care for their children and that the caregiver’s references must be scrupulously checked.

The International Nanny Association suggests that parents seeking qualified and extensively screened child care providers consider a professional nanny referral agency in their local area. INA-member agencies are listed in our online membership directory. Experienced nanny referral agencies have deep expertise in caregiver screening, the kind of experience that comes from daily nanny interviewing, screening, and reference checking. Background screening will only reveal when an applicant has been caught and convicted of a crime. Putting a recruiting professional in your corner dramatically reduces the risks of a bad hire.

Emotionally and physically safe and secure in-home childcare is our mutual goal.

INA Nanny Background Screening Resources:

INA Recommended Practices for Nanny Background Screening
Download free INA Nanny Employer Handbook 

INA Nanny Employer Handbook – a Free download


Many, many professional nannies work for families whose children have special needs. But what about the situation when the Mom or Dad is actually the family member with a special need? Author and blogger Elizabeth Christy shares tips for nannies on caring for the family as a whole when a parent has chronic pain or illness.

by Elizabeth M. Christy

Why Does Mommy Hurt?

credit: Becky A. Gardner Photography

I am a 32 year old mother living with severe chronic pain stemming from autoimmune disease. I am unable to clean my house, care for my garden, and I also need a lot of helping caring for my 3 year old son, Jimmy (pictured with me). As a mom, I want to give him the world- take him to interesting places, go on hikes, pick him up and squeeze him.. but unfortunately, I am routinely unable to do many of even the most basic tasks of parenting. If you work for a family like mine, there are many simple things that you can do to help them; and earn their deepest gratitude and trust in the process.

Take the children on outings.

Children learn by exploring their environment. When a parent you work for has chronic pain or illness, they are likely unable to regularly do “special” activities with their child, or even basics, like simply walking their child to the playground, or pushing them on the swing.  Make outings and “special” trips – family friendly farms, museums, markets, fairs, nature walks.. anything that gets the child out of the house and doing something active!  Take pictures on your phone of the child during the outings.  When you’re done; write a short note about the joyful time the kids had, and share photos.  Hearing about their children’s experiences; even if they were notable to share them, is something that will be treasured and remembered; for years to come.

Teach and encourage organization and picking-up.

Picking up toys is probably the most difficult chore for a parent with chronic pain or illness.  Even if they have a house cleaning service, children, as you know, can tear a room apart in a matter of minutes!  Better yet, teach and encourage the children to pick up after themselves; even small toddlers are able to help clean up.  That way, you will give the parents a gift that will last! Click here for a guide on how toddlers can help out around the house. *Pulling up weeds may also make a parent weep tears of gratitude!

Educate yourself, listen and support.

Google the condition that the parent has, so you can better understand how to help them.  Demonstrate your support: People with chronic pain and illness often are afraid to be seen as “complainers,” or to be judged to be “a burden,” or “lazy.” Make it clear that you believe their pain is real (chronic pain is often invisible; the parent may look completely healthy). Ask them how they’re feeling that day, and if there’s anything special that you can do to help them. Even if they don’t specify anything, keep asking; once they gain your trust, they will be more likely to open up.  Having someone that truly listens is pure gold to someone with chronic pain or illness.  Support the children. Encourage them to talk about their parents illness; ask them how they feel, and validate them. The children may have feelings of sadness, or even anger.  Read them books like “Why Does Mommy Hurt? Helping Children Cope with the Challenges of having a Parent or Caregiver with Chronic Pain, Fibromyalgia, or Autoimmune Disease.” Opening up communication in the family about a parent’s condition is another gift that could last a lifetime!

Elizabeth M. Christy is the author of many freelance and online publications, and the best-selling childrens book, “Why Does Mommy Hurt?” She writes a blog for parents with chronic pain and disease:  Elizabeth is a autoimmune disease and Fibromyalgia “ninja,” and lives in Sterling, VA with her growing family.  She also runs the non-profit “Books and Bottles,” supporting needy children and infants.  
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