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Family Resources Blog

Parenting Corner: How to Deal with Homework

backtoschool2The school year in Seattle is starting in less than 3 weeks!  As we enjoy these last days of summer, our minds turn to the upcoming year and the potentially dreaded battle of homework.  Many experts are now agreeing that forcing and battling with kids over homework is not helpful.  Here is a great article roundup of ideas on strategies to help our kids, making homework fun, and remembering that children’s job is school and how stressful that can be!

1. ParentMap: Whose Homework Is it Anyway?

2. Red Tricycle: 7 Ways to Make Homework Fun!

3. The Atlantic: Don’t Help Your Kids with Their Homework

4. Parent Further: 6 Tips for Supporting Kids When They Change Schools

6. ParentMap: 7 Tips From The Secret Society of Kindergarten

6. Momastery: The Kids are Fine!

We wish everyone a wonderful year!



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Worker’s Compensation–An Often Overlooked Aspect of Household Employment

A frustrated, upset child, or child with learning difficulties.By: HomePay Provided by Breedlove

Workers’ compensation insurance is a unique part of the household employment hiring checklist. It’s not tied to the payroll and tax process, but can have a dramatic impact on a family’s finances. The following incident is a prime example of why families need to inquire about workers’ compensation before their household employee starts her first day of work.

The Situation

A family in Tennessee hired a nanny to take care of their 2 kids. The family lived near the park in their neighborhood, so it was part of the nanny’s daily routine to take the kids there and let them have some play time outdoors. Unfortunately, only 3 weeks into the job, the nanny hurt herself while playing with one of the kids and was unable to walk back to the family’s home. She was able to call the mother who quickly drove to the park, picked up the nanny and the kids and took the nanny to the emergency room.

The nanny’s doctor informed her that it would be unsafe for her to care for the family’s children for 3 weeks while she recovered. Between the emergency room visit, x-ray, MRI, arthroscopic surgery and 12 recommended rehabilitation sessions, the total cost of her care came to approximately $8,800. To make matters worse, the hospital informed the nanny that her insurance company refused to pay for her treatment because it was a work-related injury. The nanny and the family were both confused about what to do.

The Law

The majority of states require household employers to purchase a workers’ compensation policy to assist their employee with medical bills and lost wages if they are sick or injured on the job. Even if workers’ compensation isn’t required in a family’s state, they can still be held liable for the value of their employee’s lost wages and medical bills in a work-related incident. Many families mistakenly believe their homeowner’s insurance umbrella policy is sufficient for coverage. However, these policies are written for “guest workers” (i.e. a painter or plumber doing a short-term project) and do not cover an in-home employee.

Note: In California, a homeowner’s insurance policy will cover a household employee provided they work 20 hours or less. If the employee works more than this, a rider must be purchased to provide adequate coverage.

The Outcome

Since Tennessee is not a state that requires household employers to have workers’ compensation for a nanny, the family didn’t break any employment laws. However, since the nanny’s insurance company refused to pay for her medical bills, the family was stuck with the $8,800 bill – plus another $1,800 to pay their nanny for the 3 weeks of work she had to miss. In order to save a little money when their nanny was recovering, both parents used vacation time from their own job to watch their kids until their nanny returned to work. The family now has a workers’ compensation policy – which costs them a little under $500 a year to protect them in case another accident occurs.

This case illustrates why it’s a good idea for families to purchase workers’ compensation, even it’s not required by their state. This family unfortunately made a $9,000 mistake – largely because they weren’t informed about workers’ compensation during the hiring process. Had they received a thorough consultation from an expert like HomePay, we could have eliminated this risk. You can easily imagine a scenario where a household employee is injured on the job worse than this family’s nanny. The resulting medical bills could be 2 or 3 times more expensive, which could cripple a family’s finances.


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Summertime in Seattle

Greenlake-Seattle-Q: Can you provide me with a list of fun and educational places that families (and nannies) can take their children to around the Seattle area? Now that the weather is starting to cooperate, I would love to get out and about more.

A: Yes! Field trips aren’t just for school groups with a teacher and 20-30 children. Many places around Seattle offer learning experiences for individual families and/or smaller groups as well. Parent Map has put together a great list of 10 “Do-It-Yourself” field trip locations including The Burke Museum, the Museum of History & Industry, and even Theo Chocolate Factory in Fremont. Descriptions include helpful pricing information as well!

Another great resource I found for families and nannies is the YMCA of Greater Seattle’s blog. It offers 15 fantastic (almost ALL outdoor!) locations around (but not limited to) Seattle. Five of the recommendations were just added to the list last year, ensuring us that the information is current and relevant. Some are old favorites- but places you might not have thought about for a while- and others are tucked away in places with names you may not recognize.

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Discipline as a Parent-Nanny Team

stepsMisbehavior and boundary testing is part and parcel of raising children, and it can be tough to come up with an approach that fits with the parents’ philosophy and that works for the Nanny.

As we all know, what works for one child may not work for another – different approaches might be needed, as long as they are fair and equal in the case of siblings. It is also a good idea to make a plan together for the strategies that will come into play as the children grow.

The most important part of disciplining a child is consistency; what happens with the nanny during the day must continue with the parents after she leaves, and vice-versa. When a nanny sets a consequence during the day and it isn’t followed through with, the child is more likely to repeat the bad behavior and the nanny feels undermined and disrespected.

If this has become a problem in your home, deal with it sooner rather than later. Organize a time for you and your Nanny to sit down and have a clear and frank discussion about what is and isn’t working to get you both back on the same page. Clear communication is key.

See below for some strategies and ideas that might work for you and your family:

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The Affordable Care Act: Your Nanny’s Health Insurance

ACA_logoAs an update to our December 9th post, here is the final ruling and most current information from Breedlove & Associates regarding helping your nanny with her health insurance.

Affordable Care Act:

As a result of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), most individuals are required to have health insurance or face a monetary penalty. While household employers are not required to provide health insurance for their employee, families can provide or contribute to a policy to help meet this mandate. Additionally, Congress has two types of tax incentives to encourage household employers to contribute to their employee’s health insurance.

The first incentive is to allow employer contributions toward an employee’s health insurance premiums to be treated as non-taxable compensation — meaning neither employer nor employee has to pay taxes on that portion of the compensation. The second incentive is an employer tax credit on health insurance contributions. Combined, these incentives make it wise to consider health insurance contributions as part of the compensation package.


Household employers with 1 employee can contribute to their employee’s health insurance premiums and treat the entire amount as non-taxable compensation. (Employers with 2 or more employees must purchase health insurance through SHOP to gain this benefit). This creates a significant tax advantage in situations where the employee has obtained, or is planning to obtain, health insurance. For the employee, it has the effect of paying for the health insurance premiums with pre-tax dollars, which effectively reduces the cost by a percentage equal to the employee’s marginal tax rate. For most household employees, this will be somewhere in the 15-20% range. For the family that employs the worker, it reduces the taxable wages upon which their employer taxes are based, thereby saving them approximately 10% of the amount of the health insurance contributions. Using an average health insurance cost of $350 per month, the nanny saves about $600-$800 per year and the family saves about $400 per year — simply by strategically structuring the payroll.

To achieve these tax advantages, we recommend that families pay the insurance company directly. This will eliminate any possibility of the money being used for other purposes and will make life much easier in the event of an audit. If that’s not possible, we recommend getting copies of the monthly health insurance invoices.


The Health Insurance Tax Credit for Small Employers enables employers who pay for at least half (50%) of their employee’s health insurance premiums to take a tax credit of up to 50% of the annual contribution amount. (Health Savings Accounts and Health Reimbursement Accounts are not eligible for this tax break). To qualify for this tax credit, the employer must have fewer than 25 employees, pay average annual wages (for all employees) of less than $50,000 and purchase the policy through SHOP (Small Business Health Options Program).
Note: Because SHOP is a relatively new program, frequent changes and updates may occur. Please visit the SHOP website for more information.
The tax credit percentage of 50% gradually decreases as the average annual salary increases. Using an average household employee salary of $30,000 and an average health insurance cost of $350 per month, a family would receive a tax credit of $1,680 on their federal income tax return.


What is the Affordable Care Act?
The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, commonly referred to as the Affordable Care Act, is a federal statute which was signed into law in 2010. The statute is primarily aimed at reducing the overall cost of health care and decreasing the number of uninsured individuals living in the United States by enacting a number of different mandates, subsidies and tax credits.

Am I required to offer health insurance to my employee(s)?
No, employers are not required to offer health insurance if they employ fewer than 50 employees. However, you are required to provide your current employee(s) and, at the time of hire, any future employee(s) with notice of the new Health Insurance Marketplace.

Is my employee required to have health insurance?
Yes, beginning in 2014, your employee may be charged penalties if she does not have health insurance coverage. However, you are not responsible for making sure your employee has health insurance.

What is the Health Insurance Marketplace?
The Health Insurance Marketplace, or The Marketplace, is a “one-stop shop” where individuals can compare and purchase health insurance policies. Open enrollment for The Marketplace opens on November 15, 2014 for coverage beginning January 1, 2015. Your employee(s) will be able to purchase health insurance through The Marketplace until open enrollment ends on February 15, 2015. For more information on The Marketplace, or to complete an online application for health insurance coverage, please visit

How much will health insurance cost?
The cost of health insurance will vary depending on your state and the amount of coverage your employee chooses. After completing an application through The Marketplace, your employee will be able to compare prices and coverage options for different health insurance policies. Depending on your employee’s income and family size, she may be eligible for the Advance Premium Tax Credit if she purchases insurance through The Marketplace. The credit can be applied directly to her monthly premiums which results in immediate cost savings. If she qualifies for the Advance Premium Tax Credit, her savings will be reflected in the prices displayed on The Marketplace.

If I contribute to my employee’s health insurance policy, will I be eligible for any tax breaks?
If you have 1 employee and contribute to their health insurance premium, the amount of your contribution is considered “non-taxable compensation” – so neither you nor your employee would have any taxes on that portion of the compensation. In addition to the non-taxable advantage, if you set up a health insurance policy for your employee through SHOP (Small Business Health Options Program) on the Marketplace and pay at least 50% of your employee’s premiums, you may be able to take advantage of the Credit for Small Employer Health Insurance. To take this credit, you’ll attach Form 8941 to your personal income tax return. The credit is up to 50% of the contribution you pay. If you have 2 or more employees, you must purchase a policy through SHOP in order for your contributions to be considered non-taxable.

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Questions About Holiday Tips/Bonuses for Nannies

Around the holidays, we often receive questions about tips/bonuses for nannies.  We hope these answers will provide you with some good tips and insight. 

Is there a general practice for Christmas tips/bonuses for nannies in the Seattle area?”

There is no hard and fast rule when it comes to giving your nanny a bonus at Christmas time, but in general most families will give anywhere from one to three weeks’ regular salary as a tip. There are a couple of things to keep in mind when you are coming up with a figure:

  1. How long the nanny has been with your family
    If your nanny is a new addition to the household, you are not expected to give a large tip at the end of the year. Nevertheless, a smaller gift like a $50 – $100 gift card is a great way to let her know that you appreciate the time and dedication that she’s put into the position so far.A longer term nanny who has been with your family for years is generally given a bonus that is higher than average as you are rewarding her for both a job well done and appreciating her loyalty and dedication. This is especially important when you reach the point where you are unable to give your nanny regular raises due to budget constraints. The end of year bonus is a great way to show her that you continue to value her.
  2. Other Bonuses and Benefits
    A nanny who receives a major bonus with her annual review (or “Nannyversary”) will usually receive a smaller gift around Christmas. This also applies when a family gives generously towards healthcare, extra paid time off, regular professional development classes or other benefits. Nannies recognize the extra costs involved in offering those benefits and are happy with the trade-off. Show her you care with a small cash bonus or a great holiday gift that says thank you for the great care she gives to your child!
  3. Most importantly – Your Budget                                                                      For some families, even a bonus of one to two weeks’ salary is just not possible due to constraints with their budget. Paying your nanny a fair wage throughout the year is more important than an annual bonus, and your nanny appreciates this more in the long run. It’s the thought that counts!


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The Affordable Care Act: Potential changes to Nanny Health Insurance

ACA_logoThere is LOTS of conflicting information out there at the moment regarding the way that nanny health insurance can be handled with the changes brought by the Affordable Care Act.  We are keeping in close contact with Breedlove & Associates to figure out how to advise our clients and nannies.  Unfortunately, as of today we are in limbo on how the new Affordable Care Act will affect the way families have been handling helping their nanny with health insurance. Read more »

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Annie’s Nannies Holiday Open House and our Donation Drive for WestSide Baby!


Come join ANI as we celebrate the holidays and spread some cheer.

WHEN: Wednesday, December 17th from 2:30-4:30pm

WHAT: Hot cocoa & cookies! Socializing & cheer!

WHO: Our nannies & their charges, our families & their children!

DONATE: Please bring an item(s) to donate to our WestSide Baby donation drive (see details below)


2014 westside baby holidayAnnie’s Nannies Hosts WestSide BabyHoliday Donation Drive!



Annie’s Nannies feels strongly about supporting the community we live in.  This December we will be collecting items for WestSide Baby.  WestSide Baby is a nonprofit organization that collects previously owned items for children and babies and distributes them free of charge to King County families in need.  The item most needed is diapers, but they collect everything children and babies may need.  If you would like to help us with our drive here are the details:

WHAT: (most needed) 

  • Strollers
  • Portable Cribs
  • Car Seats (Please review requirements here)
  • Pajamas (Especially larger sizes, up to age 12)
  • Pants (Especially larger sizes, up to age 12)
  • Winter Coats-all sizes
  • New Socks and Underwear
  • Diapers (Newborn, size 5 and size 6)
  • Hygiene Items (wipes, shampoo, wash, diaper cream)

WHERE: Please bring items to Annie’s Nannies’ office in West Seattle any time or during our Holiday Open House on 12/17  (6041 California AVE SW Suite 105, Seattle 98136)

OR   click here for a list of drop-off sites near you. Let us know if you take items directly to WestSide Baby!

WHEN: Please donate items by December 17th, for distribution by the holidays.

Thank you from the Annie’s Nannies Team!
-Annie, Suzanne, Teah, Jenny, Fleur, Stacey, and Autumn

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Annie’s Nannies is Moving to West Seattle!

By: Diane Duthweiler

(September, 2014) –– Seattle’s pioneering household-staffing agency Annie’s Nannies will open its new office on West Seattle’s California Avenue October 6th. The 30-year-old company needs room to grow. “We’ve been ‘space-challenged’ for a while now,” laughs COO Teah Achman. “West Seattle is a good fit for the business and our staff. We’re all excited about the new office and new neighborhood.”

“I started this business in my bedroom with $1,500 and a phone. Since then, we’ve found top jobs for thousands of people, but it’s been a roller coaster ride of ups and downs with the economy,” recalls founder Annie Davis who runs the company with daughter Suzanne Royer-McCone. Royer-McCone adds, “A business like ours must change constantly to keep up with the marketplace. We’re incredibly proud of our longevity―30 years of our wonderful staff making Seattle area families’ lives easier and finding the perfect jobs for our nannies!”

Annie’s Nannies is moving from its current office in Ballard where it has been for the past 14 years. But Davis’ ties to the community are deep, and she plans to remain active with the Ballard Chamber of Commerce where she is currently a board member and program chair.

New Location:
6041 California Ave. SW, Suite 105
Seattle, WA 98136
Ph:  206-784-8462

 Founded in 1984 and the Northwest’s longest-serving household staffing agency, Annie’s Nannies, Incorporated (ANI) provides child care/family assistants, elder companions and other personal employees. ANI is a 2009 Mayor’s Small Business Award winner and the first Seattle small business to pay a $15 minimum wage. Davis is past-president of the National Association of Premier Nanny Agencies, A Household Staffing Alliance (APNA) – a non-profit that helps set industry standards across the nation.

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So my Nanny is on Facebook…


Social Media Series, Part 1:

The line between professional and private life has been blurred with the introduction (and mass-usage) of Social Media sites such as Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

Sharing information has become the norm, but when the topic is your family and children, where should you draw the line?

A quick search of #nannying on Twitter brings up lots of photos of nannies with children. Worryingly, many have identifying information about the location and even the names and schools of the children.  Others state the family’s location, have photos of their house, the nanny’s wage, and descriptions of their brand new home theatre system! These details could be putting your children in danger, not to mention making your house a target for burglars!  Most nannies are not being malicious or doing anything intentionally, most of us frankly just don’t think about how social media can pose problems.

So what do you do about it? Setting the boundaries early prevents any miscommunication. Companies have Social Media agreements, and so can families! A blanket ban is the solution for many families, but there are other options. If you are okay with your nanny posting online, have them agree (at the minimum) to locking down their profile, turning off location services, refrain from posting where they are located and to avoid using the children’s full names.

For more information on this topic, see the following links:


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Annie's Nannies, Inc. / 6041 California AVE SW Suite 105 / Seattle, WA 98136 / PHONE: (206) 784 - 8462 / FAX: (206) 789 - 1921