If you are an employer you may have recently received in the post a letter from 10 Downing Street, signed by David Cameron, advising you of an Employment Allowance of £2,000 available to Employers from 2014/15.
Unfortunately employers of domestic workers, including nannies, are specifically excluded from claiming this allowance. I have taken up this with my local MP on more than one occasion over the past year, and also with a conservative peer who discussed the matter personally with George Osborne prior to the budget. I have also received 2 letters from David Gauke, Chief Secretary to the Treasury, following the lobbying of my MP, which I feel have not adequately addressed the issue. However, the bottom line is that employers of nannies and/or domestic staff cannot claim this allowance.
So what plans have you made for the Easter holidays this year? Keeping children entertained over the Easter holidays is a bit of challenge so why not host an egg hunt and entertain little ones this way? Easter egg hunts are great fun, they’re easy to arrange and depending on how many eggs you are going to hide, they’ll keep kids amused for ages. Here’s what you need to do.
- Think of the setting – If the weather is kind (fingers crossed) host the egg hunt outside in the garden. This gives you plenty of opportunity to conceal eggs in ‘imaginative’ places, just make sure the places you hide the eggs are safe, within easy reach of smaller children and not too challenging for very young children. If the weather turns, switch the hunt to the inside of the house, it’s just as much fun and it keeps everyone dry.
- Think of the eggs – Use foil-wrapped mini chocolate eggs to conceal in a variety of places, you might want to use hard-boiled eggs if you prefer. Hard-boiled eggs are great to paint, this is another fun activity you can try with the children prior to going on the ‘egg hunt.’
- Think of the baskets - What are the children going to carry the eggs in? Small wicker baskets are good, you can fill them with a base layer of straw or use coloured, shredded paper which looks just as good. Or have a go at making your own baskets using pieces of card, you’ll find tons of templates online. Little buckets are another handy way to collect eggs, clean and dry the buckets you use for the beach, decorate them with ribbons and give them an Easter feel.
- Think of the timescale – Set a time limit for collecting the eggs, the winner is the person with the most eggs in their basket at the end of the game. To make the game even more fun, write down little clues for the children, give them a gentle pointer if they are struggling to find some of the eggs.
Hope you have fun with your egg hunt. Happy Easter from all the team at Taxing Nannies.
School sports days are fun and they’re good for confidence building, they’re also a great way to tire children out. If you’re a nanny in charge of children why not host your own sports day this year? You could invite other nannies along with the children in their care and have fun competing against other. We’ve listed a few games for you to try in the garden or at your local park.
- Sack race – Traditionally flour sacks were used for sack races at school, you could use old pillow cases for smaller children though. Get kids to step into sacks at the start line, blow a whistle and the winner is the first person to hop along the course and cross the finish line.
- Egg and spoon – Take one hard-boiled egg, place it on the end of a spoon and what have you got? The perfect equipment for an egg and spoon race! Get players to stand on the start line holding their spoon by the handle, start them off and see who crosses the line first without dropping the egg.
- Three-legged race – This is a great game for teamwork. Two players stand side-by-side, the player on the left ties their right leg to the left leg of the player stood next to them and the objective of the game to run/straddle their way to the finish line beating other competitors along the way.
- Beanbag throw – See who has the longest throw. Players take it in turns to throw a beanbag as far as they can, the winner is the person that covers the greatest distance with a single throw from the start line.
- Wheelbarrow race – Another great game for team participants. One person places their hands on the ground, the other person lifts their legs up like they would the handles of a wheelbarrow. When the whistle blows the team has to tear down the track as fast as they can towards the finish line.
Sound like fun? It is, and it’s really easy to arrange!
As a nanny you are expected to provide the highest level of childcare and by improving your skills and taking part in training wherever possible you’ll certainly stand out from the crown in relation to job opportunities. What skills could you improve as a nanny though? We think these suggestions are important for such a responsible role, brush up in these areas if you want to do your job well.
- Maths and English skills: How are your academic skills? Were you a bit of a whizz kid with maths at school, did you excel at English language lessons or was it a struggle to make the grades when you sat exams?
If your academic skills are a bit weak why not brush up on skills in this area by attending a distance learning course or study during the evening at college? You could help the children in your care with their homework if you bring your academic skills up to scratch and impress your employers at the same time.
- Driving skills: Do you have a full driving licence? If not, now’s the time to start taking lessons. Your role as a nanny will probably involve some element of driving, whether that is taking the children to and from school or to any of their extra-curricular activities.
Take lessons if you have to, adding a full driving licence to your set of skills with greatly enhance the prospect of new job offers.
- First aid skills: Would you know how to react if a child in your care started to choke, cut themselves whilst playing or fell over and received a nasty bump to the head?
Basic first aid skills are essential for a nanny, ideally you should think about enrolling on a paediatric first aid course and gain up-to-date training so you know how to react in an emergency situation.
Due to a change in the law regarding child benefit last year, if you or your partner earn more than £50,000 and have claimed child benefit since January 2013, then the higher rate taxpayer/s will be required to complete a tax return for 2012/13. This is regardless of whether you have needed to complete a tax return previously. Part or all of the child benefit claimed will be payable back to HMRC in January 2014 as a tax charge.
In recent days there have been several newspaper articles about child benefit claimants who are likely to face penalties for failing to register for self assessment. The link below makes it clear that as long as the tax return is completed and filed by January 2014 and the tax paid, then no penalties will arise.
If you are concerned that the above applies to you and would like some assistance in preparing your tax return then please contact me. If in the meantime if you need to register for self assessment then please use the following link:
Better understand your needs and expectations before hiring a nanny.
A well-chosen nanny will enable you to better balance your work and home life, and will allow you to feel confident that your child is in safe and capable hands – but it’s important to have a basic understanding of what you want and expect from a nanny before you arrange any interviews or agree to hire anyone.
Let’s take a quick look at some important questions you need to ask yourself.
What responsibilities will the nanny have?
Before a nanny is able to accept a position, they’ll require knowledge of their full and expected childcare duties and responsibilities. So you’ll need to think very carefully about what services you require.
Sit down and come up with a list of all the duties that you’d expect the nanny to take care of. Some days may require that your nanny cook meals for the children, for example. Responsibilities could also include going food shopping, or running other small errands when you’re too busy to perform them yourself.
What is your weekly schedule, and how much can you afford?
Rather than asking your nanny what they can and can’t do, it’s much easier to be open and honest with them about your needs, and what you can and can’t afford.
Think carefully about your weekly schedule and work out which services you’ll need on each day. That way you’ll be able to come to an agreement much quicker, and your nanny will have a clear and reliable schedule to work around.
Are your needs going to change?
It’s normal for a nanny’s role to change as your children grow, so it’s important to understand how, and in what way, these changes will occur.
Are your working hours likely to change in the near future? Perhaps your children’s move to a closer school will mean that they no longer need to be driven to, or picked up from, school every day.
What are your views on caring?
Parents differ greatly on their views to childcare and discipline, and so you shouldn’t expect your nanny to uphold your views if you haven’t previously communicated them.
It’s a good idea to think about which actions you approve and disprove of. What’s an appropriate response to good and bad behaviour, and what values would you like your nanny to instil in your child?
It can be difficult to come to any firm conclusions, but it’s important to pass on your philosophy and parenting practices as best you can.
What skills and attributes to look for in a nanny.
Many parents find that hiring a nanny is a great way to provide and care for their child, but many first time nanny employers aren’t fully sure of what to expect from their nanny and find it hard to tell whether or not they’re doing a good job.
So let’s take a look at some of the most important aspects of your nanny duties.
1. They arrive on time
Arriving on time isn’t just an indicator that your nanny keeps a close eye on the time. It also shows you that she’s reliable and that you can depend on her to be there and care for your child.
And if your nanny can’t make an agreed time for any reason, they’ll make sure that they let you know as soon as possible, so you have time to make alternative arrangements.
2. They let you know what goes on
A good nanny will always keep you informed as to how they spend their day when caring for your child. They’ll fill you in with all the details, any problems or any issues either by making time to talk with you, or by filling out a daily report that you’ll be able to check.
3. Cleanliness is a priority
Unfortunately, getting messy and disorganised every so often is what childcare is all about. So it’s always a good sign to see that your nanny is spending time nurturing your child’s creativity and having fun with paints and crayons.
But things should always be clean and tidy afterwards, and inclusion of your child in the clean-up is a great way to promote safety, cleanliness and hygiene.
4. Things rarely go wrong
Accidents and mishaps are part of life. They’re unavoidable and occur whether you choose to hire a nanny to care for your child or not.
But a good nanny will go out of their way to reduce how often they occur. They’ll take extra precautions and go out of their way to make safety a priority.
5. They’re not afraid to ask for advice
Don’t think that your nanny is inexperienced because they come to you for advice. Every child is different, and who better to ask for help than those who’re closest to them?
Asking for help and advice shows a willing to collaborate and include you in your child’s care.
6. Your child is a happy child
Your child coming to you and talking about the activities they got up to with your nanny is a great sign that you child and nanny are bonding and building a relationship.
But don’t just talk to you child. Take time to speak regularly with the nanny to see how they’re getting on. If they’re happy in their role, the chances are that your child is happy too.