IS YOUR EMAIL TAKING UP TOO MUCH OF YOUR TIME?

HOW TO PREVENT EMAIL FROM BEING THE MOST COUNTERPRODUCTIVE ACTIVITY IN YOUR WORK DAY!

Email is fast becoming the number one enemy when it comes to being productive. I know because I have been there too. I have spent much time trying to master a method that deals with my emails in the fastest and most efficient way. Make no mistake, it is a very useful tool that we all need, but in many ways it is counterproductive.

How many of you start your day by switching on your computer, opening your emails and spending the next few hours stuck there feeling overwhelmed by this endless flow of emails coming at you, not to mention the ones left over from yesterday, and the day before, and the week before?

Have you ever analysed what all these emails are about? When you do, you will see that very few of them are directly related to you doing business. There are bank notifications and statements, emails trying to sell us things like Groupon, emails from experts who we have signed up to because we are interested in something they have offered us for free, but are now trying to sell us something, people who want to connect with us, Facebook notifications, those lovely little emails that circulate with feel good things, spam and junk mails that make no sense whatsoever, information about your neighborhood, kids school emails, other informative emails AND maybe an email or two where a client is inquiring about your product or service because they want to do business with you.

So how do we deal with them in a way that they are not swallowing up time which could be spent doing things that actually make us money? It is not like Facebook where we can just decide one day that we no longer want to be part of it, there is information that we actually do need in our emails. Here is my system that has worked really well for me:

STEP 1 – Become selective about what you receive

The first step is to become really selective about what you need and what you no longer need to receive. Go through all you emails and choose who you can unsubscribe from. As business owners we are all trying our best to get our goods and services out there and email is very much part of that. I am reading more and more where people are advising that one needs prospective clients to see something at least 6 times before they buy and one should send out an email daily in order to make this sale. So we see an article that interests us and in order to get what is on offer for “free”, we need to sign up to a mailing list. Then the countless emails start, one after another. Because it is a topic that we are interested in or need to learn more about, it catches our attention every time we see another email come in, taking our attention off whatever we are doing at the time. When you have the information that you initially needed, unless you are planning to buy something or you actually read the newsletters, just hit unsubscribe. When you need that course or information, you can Google it again. If it is someone that resonates with you and you want to remember their name, have a place in your diary or journal where you keep names and websites of interest and you can rather refer to that when the time is right.

STEP 2 – Create sub folders

Make folders that make sense, so that when you are looking for an email, you know exactly where to find it, without wasting time. Of course there is also a search function that works brilliantly if you have key words or the email address. I have each year of my diary as a folder and under each year I have sub folders like “Sales” and under that I have sub folders like “Retail, Agents, Direct Sales, etc.” I also have a “Personal” folder with sub folders for each of my kids, my mom and so on. My rule is that I don’t file an email in a folder until I have dealt with it. Once it goes into a folder, it is forgotten and is only there to refer back to if you need that information. If there is a string of emails about one topic, I check to make sure the last email contains all the previous info and keep deleting the previous ones. Do housekeeping on these folders from time to time as they too can become overwhelming.

STEP 3 – Set up categories

In Outlook you have a function where you can set up categories – there are 6 different colours that you can use and you are able to edit the category heading. I have them set up as follows: Personal, Bank, Business, Waiting For Reply, To Read, Advertisers. Anything that does not fit into any of these categories stays in the general section. When you go through your emails, allocate them into their categories. It is far more productive to work on one thing at a time, for instance, when I log onto my bank, I will go to the emails under the “Bank” category where I have put anything to do with money coming in or going out or anything that I need to check on my bank statement. That way I stay focused on what I am doing at that moment, without the distraction of other emails in my inbox. When you are working on the categories, remember to select “sort by category”. And once dealt with, file or delete!

STEP 4 – Keep minimum emails in your inbox

When I switch on my computer in the morning, I do a speed email session. I give myself one hour, after which I leave my emails alone or concentrate on specific emails that have relevance to my business. I go through the emails and immediately delete the junk emails or ones that I don’t need to read, skipping over the ones that I need to do something with and not forgetting to unsubscribe if I don’t need to receive that email again. I then go back to the top and group what is left into its category so that I can deal with similar things at the same time. Next I go through each category, including the ones that are left ungrouped. Within the groups I first deal with the ones that don’t require too much action, e.g. a newsletter from school, I would quickly read and make a note of any dates or actions in my diary. If I need for reference at a later stage, it gets filed under one of my kids names, otherwise deleted. Once I have done this, I am left with very few emails in my inbox, I try and keep it under 20 at all times – that means I have 20 things waiting for action or reply – any more than that and I feel completely stressed out! Some of those 20 then become part of what I plan to do in my day and become an item on my list in my diary or journal, where I allocate a specific amount of time to them. Others are things where I am waiting for responses from other people, so just have to leave them there as a reminder. Even those cannot stay for too long and sometimes rather get put as a follow up in my diary and then filed in a folder.

STEP 5 – Close your email

Unless you are actually working with specific emails, rather close your email or make sure that the notifications are switched off so that you don’t get distracted by emails coming in. Have set times in the day where you do your speed email sessions and limit the time that you spend doing it. If you have the type of business where you need to action emails often, you can do this more frequently, but make sure that when you are working on something else, you are not being distracted by emails coming in.

STEP 6 – Be respectful towards others

So having said all that and knowing that we all need email to work for us in our business, how do we change our attitude so that we don’t become an UNSUBSCRIBE statistic? Be mindful of how much email people are receiving and rather don’t bombard them with one email after another. Make sure that what you are sending out is of value to others. Try and keep emails short and to the point. Not every email requires a response, decide whether you really need to say “thank you” or “pleasure” as it is just another email for someone to delete!

You will find that once you have your email under control, you have far more time to do the things that actually count in your business.

HELP YOUR KIDS GET ORGANISED

FREE download sheets, tutorial and videos
BANNER_kids organised

The new year has started and we are already well into the first term. This term is normally filled with meet the teacher meetings, class photos, book covering, sports tours, school camps, athletics day, inter-house swimming and so many other things. All this before we have even mentioned normal day to day school work, projects, orals and homework.

I don’t remember school ever being this intense when I was growing up!

As with adults, being disorganised has a severe effect on learners as anxiety will set in if they don’t feel prepared. Knowing and planning ahead will ensure that learners are prepared, and will help them achieve the best results that they can.

If your child is battling to keep up with homework and tasks, please share this 6 STEP simple video demonstrated blog with them!

STEP 1 – HOW MUCH TIME

Kids need to know how much time they have available to do homework, projects, assignments and to study. This will depend on what sports and extramural activities they have on and what your family weekends look like. Using the downloadable time sheet, help them work out their time availability.

  1. Block off the chunk of time from the morning until the end of their school day.
  2. Block off time for any weekday or weekend sport or extra murals.
  3. Block off the time spent eating dinner, preparing for bed, showering, etc.
  4. Block off any other set commitments that they have during the week or weekend.
  5. Look at the gaps and decide how many hours they could dedicate to homework, studying & projects each day, bearing in mind that they also need some time to relax.
  6. Add up the number of hours available to study per week.

Download Printable Time Sheet

STEP 2 – BEING PREPARED

Knowing that everything is done and ready by the time kids go to bed the evening before, will leave your child feeling far calmer, and will save them from getting into unnecessary trouble at school. A good idea is to have a check list for them so that they never forget anything.

  1. Check their timetable for the next day.
  2. Make sure all homework has been done.
  3. Make sure all required books are in their bags.
  4. Pack in sports and PE clothes.
  5. Check if there are any orals, projects, tests or assignments coming up soon.
  6. Get mom or dad to sign the homework diary.
  7. Any notices for parents to be given and signed.

Download Printable Checklist        (to see a sample of the checklist, click here)

STEP 3 – MANAGING PROJECTS, ORALS AND ASSIGNMENTS

Because projects and assignments are given a couple of weeks in advance, they often get forgotten or left to the last minute and then rushed through.
Sometimes when there is a big task to do, they leave it because it feels overwhelming.

  1. Write down each step needed to complete the project, oral or assignment.
  2. Estimate how long each step will take.
  3. Check the time sheet to see which days are best to work on various parts of the task.
  4. Weekends are a great time to put in extra work for things like projects, orals & assignments.
  5. Work backwards in your diary from the last step & put a date that you are going to complete each part of the task.
  6. Always aim to finish at least 48 hours before the due date. This gives you time for anything that may come up at the last minute.

Download Printable Project Breakdown Sheet

STEP 4 – TAKING RESPONSIBILITY

When children are younger, as parents, we email, write notes and call their teachers and friend’s parents for them. As they get older, it is more likely to become their responsibility to do any of the following:

  1. Excuse themselves from sport.
  2. Call a friend to find out about homework.
  3. Send their teacher a message.
  4. Anything else school related.

STEP 5 – ACHIEVING GOALS

One of the fundamental skills for success is goal setting. Kids are never too young to learn this skill, as long as we keep it age appropriate and make it about bettering themselves and not about being overly competitive.

This creates a platform for great bonding with your child, a time to find out what their dreams and aspirations are. It is also a good time to talk about their goals from the previous year and encourage them in the areas where they did not reach their personal targets and help them deal with disappointment they may be feeling as a result of this.

They can use goal setting to do well in school, sports or any other areas that they wish. The long term benefit is that kids who learn to set goals while they are young, will grow up knowing how to set and reach goals. As adults this could help them in areas of finance, work and personal achievements.

  1. Know what they want to achieve.
  2. Pick several goals for the coming year.
  3. Write them down.
  4. Work out their steps to achieve them.
  5. Put dates to the various steps.
  6. Write the steps in their diary so that they don’t forget to do them.
  7. Refer back to their goals on a regular basis.
  8. Reward themselves when they achieve them.

Download Printable Goal Setting Sheet

STEP 6 – USING A GOOD HOMEWORK SYSTEM

It is essential to be organised at school or college. Most working people, even top managers use some form of diary or organisational system. Learning a good system now will help your child later in life.

There are various different formats of homework diaries available and most do the job, but an effective system will make all the difference.

The School / Student Sorted™ Planner is a system that can be used at school, college, university or even kept on their desk at home to help your child manage their time.

Here are some of the features of the School / Student Sorted™ Planners:

  1. Homework is viewed one week at a time – this gives the learner a good idea of what is needed each week.
  2. There is a key on the left hand side of the diary page, which can be broken down into different subjects and sport or extramural activities.
  3. This means the daily pages can include sport, extra murals, breakdown of projects, assignments & studying, personal commitments, goal steps and any other school activities like camps, tours, school photos, etc. and is flexible enough to customise to suite each individual.
  4. It has time sheets for summer, winter and exam times.
  5. School time table.
  6. Year planners for the current and following year.
  7. Sheets to break down projects and assignments.
  8. Goal setting section.
  9. Exam study planning sheets.
  10. Colour tabs to indicate when certain tasks are due.
  11. Place to write contact numbers & email addresses. This encourages kids to be more independent.

HELPING YOUR KIDS PLAN THEIR STUDY SCHEDULE FOR THE UPCOMING EXAMS

FREE downloadable study planners!!

It’s hard to believe that another year is almost finished and that our kids are starting to gear themselves up for exams. Having had 4 kids, 2 of whom are still at school, I have had plenty of years’ experience in kids writing exams.

Many kids dread this time of year, but this could be avoided if they were properly prepared.

Here are some tips with links to worksheets that can be downloaded and used to help them with their planning. I have also included 3 short videos to make it easier to understand.

STEP 1 – HOW MUCH TIME

Kids need to know how much time they have available to study. This will depend on what sports and extramural activities they have on and what your family weekends look like. Using the downloaded time sheet, help them work out their time availability.

  1. Block off the chunk of time from the morning until the end of their school day.
  2. Block off time for any weekday or weekend sport or extra murals.
  3. Block off the time spent eating dinner, preparing for bed, showering, etc.
  4. Block of any other set commitments that they have during the week or weekend.
  5. Look at the gaps and decide how many hours they could dedicate to studying each day, bearing in mind that they also need some time to relax.
  6. Add up the number of hours available to study per week.
  7. Times the hours per week by the number of weeks from now until just before exams start – this is how many hours they have to prepare!

Download Time Sheet

STEP 2 – WHAT TO STUDY AND HOW LONG IS NEEDED PER SUBJECT

Most schools will have handed out the notes on “what to study”. Using these, or the downloaded worksheet, they need to decide how many hours they need to allocate per subject.

  1. If your child has had sheets handed to him/her with the full breakdown of what to learn, then they can skip the next 4 points below (start again with point 6).
  2. Write each subject in the heading on the downloaded page/s.
  3. Fill in the date of the exam for that subject.
  4. Write the topics that need to be studied within that subject.
  5. Break it down further into sections within those topics.
  6. Next take the total number of hours available as worked out in STEP 1, and divide by the number of subjects to study (e.g. 32 hours available / 8 subjects = 4 hours per subject).
  7. Decide whether they want to study an equal number of hours per subject, or whether they want to take some time from one subject to allocate to another (e.g. Take 1 hour from Maths and add it to History).

Download Subject Breakdown Sheet  (Print as many sheets as subjects to study)

STEP 3 – SETTING UP A STUDY SCHEDULE

This is the final step for your kids to set up their study schedule. They have already worked out how much time they have available, what they need to study and how much time they need to study each subject. Next, they need to have a planner so that they fill out a study schedule, from now until the exams are over.

Enter your email address so that we can send you STEP 3

BANNER_exam



HOW DO YOU GO ABOUT STARTING YOUR OWN BUSINESS

I see so many people who are battling to find a job or wanting to start a business but do not know where to start. To be quite honest, nobody should be without work, we all have the ability to make money, as long as we are healthy and have some level of education.  For some people the thought of starting their own business is quite overwhelming but actually it is not that bad if you just do it step by step. As I am a serial entrepreneur, I have jotted down a few ideas of how I would go about it and hope that this will inspire you to do the same.

 WHAT BUSINESS CAN YOU START?

  • Think about your hobbies or your passion and see if there is something you can turn into a product or service to offer others – art, sewing, knitting – you can make and sell or teach others to do what you are good at.
  • Find opportunities out of your own needs – sometimes the best ideas come from a solution to a personal need – like me creating a diary that could manage everything that happens in my own day as well as my family’s commitments, because I have always worked or run my own business while bringing up my 4 kids.
  • What are you good at or what do you already know how to do. bookkeeping, HR, web design, etc.
  • If you prefer something more structured, there are a whole host of multi-level marketing opportunities out there. These are tried and tested systems, with training, products and loads of support that come as part of the package. We tend to balk at these, but they are genuine opportunities with great earning potential.
  • Whatever you decide to do, before you put any money into it, speak to others about your idea, do some market research. There are loads of people on Facebook who are more than happy to give feedback if you ask for it. Make sure that your idea is viable and that it is something that others would want.

COSTING, CASH FLOW PROJECTIONS AND START UP CAPITAL

  • Once you have decided what it is that you want to do, you need to work out how much money you can make. For products, do your costing, mark-ups and work out how many units you would need to sell in order to make the amount of money you need to make. For a service, decide what you want to charge and how many hours you would need to work. For multi-level marketing type businesses, all that information is already available to you.
  • Spreadsheets are a great resource. Excel is an easy program to use, it is readily available to anyone who owns a computer and the formulas are extremely helpful.
  • Do a cash flow projection for the next 2 years i.e. how much money do you project will come in and how much will go out each month. It helps you to see how much capital you need to start your business, when you will break even and make a profit.
  • Once you know how much you need, you will have to decide whether to take a loan from a bank or family, use a credit card or overdraft or use your savings – this is an investment into your future and most businesses will require some sort of capital outlay.
  • Try and keep your initial investment as low as possible, start small and grow over time.

SETTING UP YOUR BUSINESS

  • The better your planning and systems to start off with, the more smoothly your business will run in the future and the less time you will spend putting out fires.
  • Formally register your business with CIPC – depending on how big you want to grow and whether you want to sell your business one day, it is often better to keep you and your business as separate entities.
  • Branding – this is what you are putting out there, it is your “shop front” and probably the most important thing to get right when you start.
  • SARS registrations – get your SARS registrations done and make sure that you stay up to date with your returns and payments.
  • Keep good track of your finances – you could either use a formal bookkeeping system or keep records on Excel.
  • Work out your marketing strategy for the next couple of months. In this day and age of technology and social media, there are so many marketing opportunities, without having to spend a fortune.
  • When planning any section of my business, I do mind maps. I start off by writing the main topic in the middle of the page e.g. MARKETING and then write all the different ideas around the page e.g. Facebook, Twitter, Website, Blog, Pinterest, Trades with others, People I could approach, etc. Then under each one, I write ideas. I love using different colours and shapes to do this.

The reason most of us start a business from home is so that we can have more time with our families and for ourselves. So often what happens, is our business starts taking over our lives and keeping us busier than a regular job. Always remember the reason you started working for yourself and when you find that you are moving away from living that dream, relook at how you are doing things, I speak from experience on this, it has taken me years of working long long hours to realise that this is absolutely not necessary.

HELPING YOUR KIDS WITH TIME MANAGMENT AND ORGANISATION AT SCHOOL

As parents, we often struggle with our own time management. Can you imagine how difficult it must be for kids?  At their young age they need to deal with school, homework, projects, sport and other activities. I am convinced that kids nowadays have twice as much on their plates than we ever had when we were at school. The best way that we can help them with this is to offer them the best systems possible with regard to time management and being organised.

Here are some tips that you can pass on to your kids – teach them to take responsibility, work smartly and to be organised now and they will take these skills with them into adulthood.

BEFORE YOU CAN MANAGE YOUR TIME, YOU NEED TO KNOW HOW MUCH TIME YOU HAVE AVAILABLE

    1. Use a time sheet that shows a week at a glance. This should be divided up into days of the week and hours in the day – starting from the time you wake up in the morning, until the time you go to bed at night, and should be in half hour increments.
    2. Block off times and shade the blocks
      These could consist of the following (each in a different colour)
      i)             School hours
      ii)            Various sports and extra murals
      iii)           Supper , shower and bed time
    3. You will be left with white spaces, which is your time to fit in homework, projects and any other activities that you do, including time to do your own thing.
    4. You would need to draw up a different time sheet for summer and winter as sports change. You would also need a different one during exam times as school hours and sports times often change during exams.

TAKING RESPONSIBILITY FOR ALL ASPECTS OF YOUR SCHOOL LIFE

When you are younger, your parents email, write notes and call your teachers and friends parents for you, but as you get older, it is more likely to become your responsibility to do any of the following:

  1. Excuse yourself from sport
  2. Call a friend to find out about homework
  3. Send your teacher a message
  4. Anything else school related

I would suggest keeping friends and teachers contact information in your diary as it is easier and saves time to have all in one place, instead of having to search around every time you need it.

BE PREPARED FOR THE NEXT DAY

If you are well prepared the evening before, you will feel far calmer for the day and it will save you getting into unnecessary trouble. Do a quick check again in the morning before you leave home.

  1. Check your timetable in your homework book
  2. Make sure all your books are packed in your bag for the next day
  3. Check that you have done all your homework
  4. Pack in your sports and PE clothes

EXAM AND TEST PREPARATION

Being prepared for your exams will mean that you will go into the exam feeling confident and relaxed. You have a far better chance of achieving your best possible results that way.
Being unprepared will have the opposite effect on you – you will be worried and stressed and it will reflect in your marks in a negative way, leaving you feeling disappointed with yourself.

  1. Have a page for each subject in your homework book
  2. Write each section of work under that subject as a sub heading
  3. List each item that you need to learn under that sub heading
  4. Have a column down the right hand side where you can estimate how much time is needed to study each section. This will help you with planning your study time when it comes to exams.
  5. You can also have another column where you can tick once you have studied that section – use pencil so that you can erase it and do it again with the next set of exams.

PROJECTS AND ASSIGNMENTS

Because projects and assignments are given a couple of weeks in advance, they can sometimes get forgotten or left to the last minute and then rushed through.
Sometimes when there is a big job to do, we leave it because it feels overwhelming.
Remember the question “How do you eat an elephant?” The answer is “One bite at a time!”

Instead of looking at one big task, rather break it down into “bite size” chunks that are more manageable and less overwhelming.

  1. Write down each step you need to do to complete the project (e.g. * buy cardboard *do a mind map to establish headings and some points *research info on the internet & save to Word document *summarise into your own words * find pictures to go with the info *save pictures to memory stick and have them printed *put the project together)
  2. Estimate how long each step will take
  3. Write the due date in your homework diary
  4. Look at your time sheet to see which days are best to work on various parts of your project (it is always a good idea to put some time in over weekends, especially for things like projects)
  5. Work backwards in your diary, slotting in the tasks that you have identified from the bottom up. Always aim to finish at least 48 hours before the due date, to give you time for anything that may come up at the last minute

SETTING GOALS FOR YOURSELF

A great way to start your year is to think about what you hope to achieve and where you want to be when this 12 month journey ends. If you don’t set goals, you won’t know where you are going or which way to go to ensure you get there.

  1. Know what you want to achieve
  2. Pick several goals for the coming year
  3. Write them down
  4. Work out your steps to achieve them
  5. Refer back to your goals on a regular basis
  6. Reward yourself when you achieve them

USING A HOMEWORK DIARY OR PLANNER

It is essential to be organised at school. Most working people, even top managers use some form of diary. Learning a good system now will help you later in life.

You get many different types of diaries, some are more effective than others.

The School Sorted™ Planner is a diary that includes sheets and pages where you can do all of the things listed above. When your diary is open, you can see the full week. There is a key down the left hand side, which can be broken down into different subjects and sports or activities. Each line then represents a subject or sport. It also comes with colour sticky tabs that represent things like projects, tests, exams, orals, etc – so you can always see at a glance if something is due. It is a format that will help you stay completely on top of all that you need to do.

To order your own copy of The School Sorted™ Planner, click here

   School Sorted

 

MARKETING A BUSINESS HAS NEVER BEEN MORE ACCESSIBLE OR COST EFFECTIVE AS IT IS TODAY

No business can survive without some degree of marketing. Years ago when I first started out in my own business, my only option was print advertising.
I owned a computer company and used to proudly occupy the position on the front page of the Cape Ads week after week, and WOW, did we sell computers from that advert.
At that stage it was partly position, partly repetition, but most of all – people would actually buy the Cape Ads as this was the only way that they could buy and sell second hand goods.
Of course that was in the days before Gumtree and OLX and other such websites.

Today things are so different, it is all about building a following and connections. Although this is a process and does take time, if you work at it consistently, you will eventually end up with your very own audience to market to. I used to think that the only way to do this was to constantly run competitions and to give things away, but found that I was not necessarily attracting people who were serious about my business or my products. The day I sat down and worked out a strategy for my marketing, was the day I started growing organically and consistently. It was almost as though someone had flicked a switch and people out there started taking me more seriously.

So, what if you don’t yet have that following? Find someone with the same market as yours who does have a following and tap into their market.

M.O.M Diary has an established client base and following on various platforms which I am willing to share with a maximum of 200 businesses who have a similar market to mine.
If your market is women and you would like to increase your prospects, please email me on alison@wonderfullyorganisedwomen.co.za.
I will even include showing you how to develop a marketing strategy for the next year if that is what you need. I mentioned above that marketing now days is not only accessible, but also “cost effective”. Of course I am going to expect something in return, but I am offering you HUGE value for the approximate price of “a meal for one person in a restaurant” per month.

I look forward to hearing from you via email or you can click here to have a look at what our  marketing offering consists of.

NANNY, CRECHE, AU PAIR – WHAT’S BEST FOR YOU?

There are few things in life that are more daunting for any parent than handing over your precious little child to someone else to care for. Whether it is a Mom returning to work after maternity leave, or a stay at home Mom needing some help at home, finding the right child care, and the right person to care for your child is a decision that requires a lot of thought and planning – and ultimately, following your instinct.

In an ideal world, or one the pictures in magazines would have us believe, we could all blissfully stay at home with our kids, frolicking in parks, doing crafts or baking, and not having a care in the world. However, in reality, most Moms today need to work, whether from home, or traveling to an office each day. Most stay-at-home Moms are also finding that they need some assistance with the kiddies, to get other tasks done, or simply for sanity sake.

Moms feel tremendous guilt about “outsourcing” their childcare. But we need to acknowledge and understand that there is nothing to feel guilty about. In past times, wealthy families would also have “governesses” or nannies, and even in the poorer families, older children and family members would help to care for smaller siblings and children.  The only difference now is that we have considerably more choice about who can look after our children, and where they can be cared for. But there are always factors to consider in selecting the right childcare option.

A few questions parents can ask, when selecting the best child care are:

1)      Do we have a family member that can assist caring for our child?

2)      What budget do we have for child care?

3)      Would we prefer our child to be in a group of children, or receive one-on-one care from a caregiver?

4)      What are the most important characteristics we need in the caregiver/school/nanny?

These questions will help to guide you with regards to whether having someone care for baby at home, or taking baby to crèche are more suitable.

With home-based childcare, you normally have the option of an Au Pair, or a Nanny. The main difference between Au Pairs and nannies are that Au Pairs tend to be young ladies who are studying, or have just completed studies, and are working to either gain experience, or tide themselves over. An Au Pair will have a car and driver’s license, and are well suited to position where children can be taken to and from activities and extra-murals, and can help with home-work. In my personal experience as someone who trains and places child-minders, I have found that you do get some Au Pairs that are suited to caring for infants and small children, but I have found that the most value in Au Pairs is found when they are assisting older, more active toddlers and school going children. Au Pairs are costly though. The current cost of an Au Pair can range from R6 000 – 12 000pm for a full day Au Pair.

Nannies are generally ladies that have a more basic education, and are very well suited to infant and child care. Because the majority of nannies range from 28-58years of age, these ladies are maternal, and often have had children of their own. A well trained nanny will be able to do all day to day care of the baby, such as nappies, bottles, sleep routines, bathing, feeding etc… as well as have a good knowledge of what to do in the event of an emergency. A nanny should also understand the importance of play, and will mentally stimulate a child as well as taking care of the physical needs of the child. A good nanny will make sure that the child develops not only by growing, but through play and social stimulation as well. Most nannies are also prepared to have an element of domestic work as part of their day-to-day duties; however, it is crucial that the nanny and parent both acknowledge that the care and well-being of the baby or child will come first. Many parent’s also employ a nanny-domestic to perform domestic chores in the morning (when kids are at school/crèche) and tend to kids in the afternoons or if the kids are off school ill, or on school holidays. Nannies can either reside at the premises of the employer (generally Monday to Friday), or can travel to work daily. A good Nanny or Nanny-domestic will cost from R2 500 – R4 000pm, depending on hours, duties, experience etc…

Crèche’s are available all over, and today, we are seeing more and more companies opening day care facilities and crèche’s for the children of their staff – making it easier for working parents to drop and collect children from crèche. All crèche’s do need to be registered with provincial government, and need to adhere to certain regulations regarding safety, caregiver-to-child ratio’s etc… Children attending crèche are also exposed to other children, and thus have loads of social interaction. Unfortunately, due to this social interaction, children attending crèche are often prone to picking up bugs from one another, for this reason, most Paediatricians’ recommend keeping kiddies home until 3yrs. But that can be quite long for many kids, who do need the interaction sooner. Most crèche’s open early in the morning, and cater to parents who can collect their kids a little later (around 6pm). Some crèche’s cater to parent’s who also want to send children half-day, or a couple of days a week. Crèche’s can range from around R2 000pm-R5 000pm.

At the end of the day, there are no right or wrong answers, and the choice of child care is a very personal choice. Parent’s need to select the option that best suits them, and their requirements. Investigate all the options, and choose the one that suits you. When you meet Nannies, Au Pairs, or visit crèche’s, follow your gut-instinct, and choose the right option for you.

Resources:

NANNIES:    Help At Home (www.helpathome.co.za), contact Ruth Kloppers on 087 808 9433 or 084 870 8544

AU PAIRS:    Au Pair Professional Services (www.proplacements.co.za), contact Hayley Eaton on 0861 692 4453 or 083 270 5060

CRECHE LISTINGS:     www.schoolguide.co.za or www.kiddicare.co.za

HOW TO PACK FOR A MOVE

Packing Tips

Moving into a new house is a very exciting experience. Packing up all your belongings and moving into a new property brings the beginning of a new chapter in your life. In order to go through this experience with your sanity intact, it is important that you plan ahead and pack correctly.

 

We have compiled a proper list of packing tips to help you plan a peaceful and exciting move.

 

How to Pack for a Move

 

  1. Before you start packing create a simple inventory or record keeping system. Estimate the total number of boxes you will end up with and number in your book from 1 to estimate amount, leaving enough space to write down the contents of each box. This list will go with you into each room where you pack. Number each box on all sides according to your list and add coloured stickers according to your colour coding system (see point 2).  This way it will be easy to find items easily, even if boxes are going into storage for a period of time.
  2. Work out a simple colour coding system. Select a colour for each room in the new house and use coloured stickers on boxes. Remember to indicate the appropriate colour on each door in the new house. This will help the movers to place the boxes in the correct rooms.
  3. Keep all your packing supplies in one place and ensure that you have more than enough stock. The supplies should consist of boxes, tape, notebook, permanent markers, bubble wrap, wrapping paper (newspaper without ink) and stickers or pens for colour coding and whatever else you might need.
  4. Boxes obtained from the grocery store are not always sturdy enough to hold heavy or fragile items. Boxes can be purchased through your moving company or directly from a packaging supplier. If you buy boxes from the moving company, you might be able to return unused boxes for a refund. Some movers provide good quality second hand boxes, so ask your mover about this.
  5. If you are making use of second hand boxes, be sure to remove all staples from the top and bottom to avoid surface scratching.
  6. Hanger boxes are more expensive than other boxes, so be sure to ask about the price. These large, tall boxes are ideal for packing pillows, blankets, soft toys, etc, although the main purpose for these boxes is for clothing that should remain hanging.
  7. Buy blank newspaper rolls from your packaging supplier or moving company for delicate objects. Take care not to use newspaper with print, as the ink can cause permanent stains. Reusable plastic bags from the grocery store also works for some fragile items.
  8. Before you start to pack your boxes, make sure that you get rid of unwanted things. Read our Moving Tips for more about what to do ahead of your move.
  9. Make a list of things you would want unpacked first and label the boxes accordingly.
  10. To properly pack boxes reinforce the seam at the bottom of the box with packing tape and run a piece of tape perpendicular to that seam. Do not under pack boxes as it can then be easily crushed and the content can move around causing damage. On the contrary, over packing it can cause it to burst and send contents flying.
  11. To fill empty space in boxes, use empty plastic bags, dishtowels or clothing for support. Bubble wrap works great for this purpose, but can be costly.
  12. When the box is filled to capacity, tape it shut and label it as described under points 1 & 2 above.
  13. Mark boxes with delicate content as “fragile” or “this side up”.
  14. Pack room by room and keep items that belong in the same room together.
  15. Pack smaller, light weight items like shoes and handbags into reusable plastic bags and put these in the bottom of hanger boxes before hanging clothing. Be sure to hang clothing close together to avoid falling off of hangers.
  16. Pack heavier items like books into small boxes and lighter items in larger boxes. The strength of a box should support the contents. An ideal box should be without rips, tears or any damage to the corners. Remember, if a moving company has to repack a box for you, they might charge you for the service.
  17. Where possible, repack electronics like TV’s, plasmas, computers and printers into its original packaging. Try to keep loose parts and cords with each item.
  18. Pack very small items into resealable plastic bags or into bigger containers such as shoe boxes or jewellery boxes.
  19. Wrap fragile items in bubble wrap and pack between cushions or linens in boxes.
  20. Take special care with small items like the lid of a tea pot or espresso cups, as these can easily get lost between bunched up pieces of paper.
  21. All glassware and china should be wrapped with enough paper to avoid clattering inside the box.
  22. Pack plates on their side, wrapped individually in enough paper. Never lay plates flat. Put enough stuffing inside the box that the plates can’t move around.
  23. Glasses should also be wrapped individually and packed standing up. Use double layers if possible, especially for delicate items like china and glassware. Put heavier items in the bottom and lighter glasses at the top.
  24. Most moving companies are only liable for items they pack themselves, so the best way to insure your fragile items is to have them pack it for you. Most moving companies in South Africa will be able to provide you with a quotation that includes packing of the kitchen only.
  25. Use your own suitcases and duffle bags to pack clothing, sheets, towels and other linen. Do not use suitcases for heavy items.
  26. Place lamps and lamp shades into separate boxes. Wrap with clean paper and blankets and remove light-bulbs from all lamps.
  27. Keep around 10 boxes aside for last minute packing on the day. This will be used for groceries, bedding, cleaning supplies, etc.
  28. If you are moving into a house with wooden or laminate floors and you want to protect the floors against scratches, stick felt flooring pads underneath all heavy furniture before going out into the truck. This will spare you the trouble of doing this at the new house and will also prevent scratches caused when the furniture is placed by the movers.
  29. Tape bolts, screws and other loose items underneath furniture so that everything is easily accessible when furniture is reassembled.
  30. Lastly, for your own sanity and that of the movers, keep children and pets out of the way. If possible, arrange a baby sitter for the children and your pets. This will greatly reduce your stress levels on moving day.

 

Source: AskDonkey.co.za: http://www.askdonkey-removals.co.za/packing-tips.html