Toy of the Year Holiday Shopping Guide

November 24, 2012






Long recognized as the event to salute the success, creativity and playful spirit of the North American toy industry, the Toy of the Year (TOTY) Awards fully embraces the passion and creativity of the toy industry and its commitment to bring millions of smiles to millions of kids!

Download and Print 2012 TOTY Buying Guide and Shopping List

On November 19, 2012, this year’s finalists were unveiled and voting began during a national press conference held in New York City; toys took over the Great White Way as TOTY images were displayed over Broadway throughout Thanksgiving week.

The TOTY 2013 voting process includes input not only from consumers, but also members of the Association, retailers and journalists. Voting is open through Sunday, January 15th at which point votes will be tallied and the winners announced during a celebration in New York on February 9th.


What’s the hottest Toy’s for 2012 ? “TOTY-ShoppingGuide.indd”

Nanny Jobs: 10 Signs You Have a Bad Boss

November 23, 2012

As the New Year approaches the Cambridge Nanny Group‘s Nanny e-newsletter will focus common employment questions and job trends. Do you feel lost and unsure of how to go about finding your next job? It’s never a bad time to kick start your career or revitalize your job search. Make a few career-related New Year’s resolutions and commit yourself to achieving career success in 2013.

Nanny Jobs: 10 Signs You Have a Bad Boss 

Many nannies have disagreements with their employers  from time to time, and most families are great employers,  but here are 10 signs that you have a truly bad boss, the kind worth getting away from. And if you’re a parent and recognize yourself in any of the below, it’s time to immediately send yourself to boss rehab!

Don’t sacrifice your health or self-esteem. Limiting contact may help you personally but isn’t usually a good professional move. It may be time for you to look for a new position.

1. Yelling.  Employer who yell actually diminish their own authority because they look out of control. After all, a Boss confident in her own authority doesn’t need to yell because she has far more effective tools available to her.  Even if  a Boss is not  screaming angrily at an employee, speaking loudly can damage workplace morale.  Nannies: Don’t yell, and don’t work for yellers.

2. No guidance  Plans. Who needs them. If your employer doesn’t communicate clear, concrete goals for your nanny work, and convey to you what success in your position would look like, she’s falling down on one of her most important jobs.  Nannies:  Insist your family prepares a nanny family agreement.  Otherwise it’s like starting a job without being told the job duties and responsibilities and what’s expected of you.

3. Unreliability.  Your boss is consistently late and does not respect your time.  The employer tells the nanny she’ll be home by 5pm – she arrives at 7pm.  She promises to make sure she’s home by 3:15 because the nanny has a dentist appointment  – but she doesn’t arrive until after 4pm.   Of course things come up and flexibility is the hallmark of a great nanny, but if your boss is almost always unreliable thats a huge problem. Nannies: you need to be able to rely on your boss to do what she says she’s going to do, just as she needs to rely on you for the same.

5. Unreasonable demands. Holding staffers to a high standard is a good thing. But demanding people work over the weekends, or asking your nanny to work on all major holidays,  or demanding that an employee do the truly impossible, is the mark of a tyrant.  Some bad bosses  hold the nanny accountable for all behavior of the child – all of it – the good, bad, and the ugly.  A family who points to the nanny anytime something is less than perfect with little junior is certainly making an unreasonable demand.

6. Indirectness. When a boss sugarcoats to the point that her message is missed, or presents requirements as mere suggestions, a nanny  ends up confused about expectations, and the manager ends up frustrated that her “suggestions” weren’t acted upon.  A good boss is clear and concise in communication.

7. Ruling by fear.  Employer who rule through rigid control, negativity,  stone-walling and a climate of anxiety and fear don’t trust that they can get things done any other way. Of course, it backfires in the end because fearful employees won’t bring up new ideas for fear of being attacked and won’t be honest about problems. Moreover, very few great nannies with options are going to want to work for a fear-based employer.

8. Defensiveness. Employers who respond defensively when their decisions are questioned end up quashing dissent and making nannies less likely to suggest new and different ways of doing things.  Bosses who are secure in their authority aren’t threatened by dissent, and they recognize that others’ ideas are sometimes better than their own.

9. Drama. A good manager minimizes drama, rather than causing it. It’s normal for all of us to react somehow to stress and for our emotions to manifest themselves. The difference between a good manager and a bad manager, however, is that a bad manager sends signals that the stressful circumstances are controlling him or her and not the inverse. This isn’t to say that a good manager need exude the emotional output a buddhist monk; instead, good managers maintain control and don’t allow stress to dictate their behavior. Bad managers do the opposite.

10. They don’t deliver tough messages – Until it’s too late. If your manager avoids conflict and tough conversations, chances are high that employees don’t hear much feedback and problems don’t get addressed – like never.  Good employers deliver tough messages — but they do so within the context of a relationship built on trust. If you’re hearing that your employer was dissatisfied with your performance on the day they are letting you go there was a huge communication disconnect and it’s probably in everyone’s best interest that you find a family that’s a better fit.

Other signs may include:

  • Ignores the classic, time honored cliché, “Praise in public, criticize in private.”
  • Doesn’t support you when something goes wrong.
  • Fault finder. Constantly complains about what’s wrong or incorrect.
  • Micro-manages and needs to know everything.
  • acts paranoid and is overly neurotic.
  • Jumps to conclusions without getting all the facts or information.
  • If it isn’t her idea, then it can’t be good.
  • Implements two-faced attacks.
  • Tells sarcastic jokes or teases.
  • Breaks confidences and gossips.

If you have a bad boss,  it’s important to remember not to sacrifice your health or self-esteem. Polite confrontation should always be your first move. However, a bad boss lacking supervisory skills may not recognize your attempts to make things better. Limiting contact may help you personally but isn’t usually a good professional move.   The best solution is to look for employment elsewhere.  You’ll be happier in the long-run.

Love your job?  You should! If you have a phenomenal employer be sure to take the time to tell them.  Words of appreciation go a long way in building a mutual fulfilling relationship.

In the next nanny e-newsletter we’ll tackle what it it means to be a great nanny employee.   Remember, employment success it’s a two-way street.




Cambridge Nanny Group


Cambridge Nanny Group is Chicago’s leading nanny agency.



amanda hargrove




Nanny Jobs: When to Turn Down an Offer

November 22, 2012

You get the call: the nanny job is yours!  Your elated, right? Maybe not.  Determining whether to take a job can actually be a difficult decision. The average domestic employee spends 8.5 hours a day on the job.  Over time, that adds up to a significant chunk of your life. In fact, you’ll spend more waking hours at work then you will in any area of your life.   For that reason, you’ll want to avoid working in a miserable job.  But how can you spot a bad employee to work for?  By looking for the following eight warning signs during the hiring process.  Of course, one or two of these signs may not be a deal break but more than a few should raise a red flag.

1. Communication with you is disrespectful.  Your treatment during the hiring process is a clue as to how you’ll be treated as a nanny employee. Once you’ve started a dialogue with an employee family, you should expect to be treated with courtesy and respect. For example, your questions about the hiring timeline and your application status should be answered forthrightly.  If that isn’t the case —  or if interviews are canceled at the last minute without apology or explanation– you may want to take your nanny job search elsewhere

2. The hiring family actively distrusts you.  Just as you don’t want to make a bad career move, employers don’t want to make a bad nanny hire — so expect to complete a background check and reference check.   Your job involves working with children, so you should expect scrutiny.   But these checks should all be carried out in a non-accusatory and respectful manner. Employing families  that don’t trust candidates probably won’t trust their nanny either — and an environment of distrust is no place to spend nearly eight hours a day.
3. You don’t like the work environment.  You shouldn’t take a nanny job without paying a visit to where you’ll be working.   If a visit to a home is depressing, unhappy, hostile, or so stressful it’s bursting at the seams, you won’t want to work there for several hours a day.

4.  Nanny Turnover.  Inquiring about a families experience with previous nannies — should be an important part of your interview. It’s not uncommon for families to have employed a nanny that turned out not to be the  best long-term fit.  Totally normal. However,  the family should be able to articulate what went wrong , what they did to try to improve the situation, and what they learned from the experience. If a family conceals that they hired and terminated a nanny previously – it’s a huge red flag. It’s sorta like starting a serious relationship and your partner fails to tell you they were previously married.  It’s important to begin a relationship with open communication so you have the information you need to understand  (and meet) their needs and expectations.

5. You don’t think you’ll get along with your boss.  Having a boss you click with can really make a difference in your on-the-job happiness. Be sure to discuss work styles and communication styles with the family to make sure they’re at least compatible with yours. But trust your instincts. If you actively dislike the manager after the first interview or two, you might not want to take the job.
6. The job’s duties are unclear.  After you’ve interviewed with one or both parents, you should have a clear idea of how the positions duties and responsibilities. Walking into a situation where different people give you different answers about job duties, or where there are no clear goals for you to work toward, can lead to a confusing and ultimately disastrous job situation.   Encourage the family to draft a family and nanny agreement so you are clear on the duties and responsibilities.   If family refuses to draft a family and nanny agreement consider continuing your job search
7.   They want to hire you right away, without any interviewing or reference checks.  It can take weeks and months to identify a good nanny and family “match”. Desperation on the employer’s part is a danger sign.
8.  The trial day or period doesn’t feel right.  In the hiring process, parents often rely on their “gut” when making final decisions about candidates. Trust your gut, too. If it doesn’t feel right, do a bit more evaluation  before accepting a job offer.
Cambridge Nanny Group is Chicago’s leading nanny agency. For more information about our services please visit our website.

Many Jobs in Nanny Economy, Few Qualified Applicants

November 20, 2012

Ingrid Kellaghan, founder of Cambridge Nanny Group discusses the Nanny job Market with Bloomberg Businessweek. Many Jobs in Nanny Economy, Few Qualified Applicants. Bloomberg Businessweek. September 7, 2012

Sarah Jessica Parker and a nanny take her twins Marion and Tabitha for a walk in the West Village in New York last year.

It’s tough to find a decent job these days, but if you’re a hard-working college graduate who can swim, play golf and tennis, make macaroni and cheese and clean up the kitchen afterward, who can deal with chaos and changing plans, devise games for a four-year-old and is cool enough to be adored by a teenager, there may be a position for you. The parents who posted this job description on have six high-energy kids, but you’d work just weekends and earn between $2,400 and $3,200 a month.

Here’s another possibility. Care for two adorable, creative girls; feed them fresh, healthy meals without sugar and bad carbs; guide them to good and polite behavior; have conversations with them about what’s going on in their lives; empty the dishwasher, wipe the counters and sink, and store leftovers appropriately. Also: You have to be able to swim and to stay overnight when necessary. Salary commensurate with experience.

Brace yourselves, job seekers: The high-end nanny (and manny) economy is thriving. “In the past six months, we’ve done extremely well,” says Cliff Greenhouse, president of the Pavillion Agency, which places all kinds of household staff. “Summer is usually quiet in this industry, and we had a really busy summer.” Pavillion serves New York families and New York-type families around the country, says Greenhouse. If you’re not familiar with the breed he’s referring to, here’s a description: “We have very high standards. We’re not easy to please. We recognize that what we’re looking for is hard to find and we’re prepared to reward those who can please us.” Greenhouse says his nannies’ average salary is between $65,000 and $75,000 a year, and some earn well over $100,000.

If, that is, you have a college education. “Parents are really focusing on candidates with a strong educational background, degrees in education, law, engineering, computer science,” says Greenhouse. “Before, that might have been looked at as a threat or a red flag that the nanny wouldn’t stick around long. Now families are seeking out highly educated people and giving them incentives to make nannying their career.” The fact that “nannying” is a word should tell you something.

Nannies also must have demonstrated “a history of passion for kids,” says Greenhouse. “I’m working with someone who was laid off from an investment banking job. She’s not going to cut it as a nanny. I have to tell her: ‘Come to me five years from now after you have some experience.’”

Some busy parents want to delegate all sorts of responsibilities, and they want to delegate to someone who has been through it all before. “In the past year, we’ve seen families searching for a nanny who can make the decisions for them,” says Greenhouse. “They have to be qualified to make decisions about pediatricians, nutrition, discipline, schools. Parents only ask that the nannies keep them in the loop.”

A specialization helps, too. “The top earners have an education degree or experience working specifically with infants or twins or big families,” says Ingrid Kellaghan, founder of the Cambridge Nanny Group in Chicago. A nanny can’t just speak Mandarin, she has to have a proven ability to teach a child how to speak Mandarin. ”Some parents may have specific milestones, such as their kids being able to read before they enter school. A nanny has to show she has done that before.”

Nannies, like their employers, have to work longer hours. Five years ago, the typical day was 10 hours. Now, it’s not unusual for nannies to work 14 to 16 hours a day. Ads regularly mention the need for a flexible schedule, staying overnight, working weekends, sometimes traveling with the family.

If you’ve got all of that, you’re golden. Greenhouse says he has a candidate with a degree in theater and 15 years’ experience as a nanny. She is so highly sought after that she’s already turned down a few of the jobs he’s presented to her. They didn’t pay enough. She’s expecting to earn more than $100,000. And she probably will, he says.

Kellaghan says her agency rejects 95 percent of all applicants. Greenhouse says that in the past two weeks, Pavillion has received 50 requests for nannies. It’s screened more than 100 candidates. It’s accepted 12.

Berfield is an associate editor for Bloomberg Businessweek.

The New Father: All About Car Seats

Ingrid Kellaghan, founder of Cambridge Nanny Group, provide’s advice to Consumer Media Network to Dad’s who are tackling car seats for the first time. The original article appeared on September 24, 2012.

One of the most terrifying drives of my life was the drive home from the hospital when I had my son in the car for the first time. Never in my life had I carried more precious cargo. He seemed so fragile, so vulnerable. I wasn’t too concerned about my ability to keep the car on the road; it was all the other drivers I was worried about. You can’t control other drivers, and you never know when they might do something dumb and ruin your day.

A couple of months ago, I was hit by another driver, and it ended up totaling my car. I was concerned about myself, my car, the other driver, and the oncoming traffic whose lane my crippled car was now sitting in — but I was also grateful that I didn’t have my son in the car with me. Even though he probably would have been fine in his car seat, I didn’t want to think about him being jarred and slammed around from the impact.

This brings me to talk about car seats. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), September 16-22 was Child Passenger Safety Week, a time to emphasize the importance of having your child in the appropriate, properly installed car seat. To help you with your car seat decisions, this article will touch on information about car seats, proper installation, and some tips I’ve received.

About Car Seats

First thing you should know is that a car seat must adhere to the laws and regulationsestablished by the NHTSA regarding child restraint systems before they can legally be sold to the public. They must undergo testing to ensure they are in fact safe for a child to ride in. Therefore, any car seat you see at the store has been tested for safety and has passed.

Mikey Rox, principal of Paper Rox Scissors, shared some of the tips he had received from Ingrid Kellaghan, the founder of Cambridge Nanny Group in Chicago. According to Kellaghan, all car seats on the market have passed crash-safety and fire-safety tests, so the main thing you need to be concerned with is choosing the appropriate car seat for your child’s age and weight.

As your child grows, you will need to make sure they are in the age- and weight-appropriate car seat, as there are car seats specifically suited for children of different sizes. Each car seat will have the age and weight limits displayed on the packaging and the car seat itself in most cases. NHTSA also provides a basic guide explaining the type of car seat they recommend for each age group.


The proper installation of a car seat is not to be taken lightly. An improperly installed car seat can result in the injury or death of your child. If you get in an accident and the car seat comes loose, it’s going to fly and bounce all over the car with your kid still in it, or your child may even fall out, so, make sure that seat is installed correctly.

Each car seat will come with step-by-step instructions on how to properly install and adjust it, and for further instruction, the NHTSA has a page with videos and instructions about how to install car seats using seat belts or the LATCH system, as well as how to install booster seats. There are many other websites and even YouTube videos that can walk you through this process as well, but I recommend sticking to either the manufacturer’s instructions or NHTSA’s.

Some high-tech car seats make installation easier, such as the Summer Infant Prodigy Infant Car Seat. Meg Parker, account director with Hollywood Public Relations, said that this seat comes with a digital display that walks you through the process and shows a green smiley face when each step is completed correctly. The seat also features a one-hand tightening system that keeps you from having to push down on the base with your knee as you pull the slack out of the seat belt or straps, and a harness that will adjust to your child’s shoulder height automatically.

However, even with super high-tech seats that are essentially mistake-proof, many people (myself included) don’t feel confident enough to install the car seat on their own for the first time. To deal with this uncertainly, I went across the street to a sheriff’s office before leaving the hospital with my newborn son, and a constable there installed the seat for me, showing and explaining to me how to do it correctly in the future.

In fact, given the seriousness of car seat installation and the need for it to be done correctly, there are many places you can go to get help. Many police stations, fire stations, hospitals, and car dealerships, as well as some retailers, will have people on hand who can help parents learn how to properly install a car seat and adjust the harness to ensure there is no risk of the child coming out of the car seat in the event of an accident.

To make sure your car seat is properly installed and still meets safety requirements, you can use the NHTSA’s Car Seat Inspection Station Locator to find a certified technician near you that can inspect your car seat, as well as show you how to install and use your car seat so you can do it on your own later on.

Accidents happen on the road every day, and you never know when you might be involved in one. Make sure your child is in a properly installed and safe car seat that suits their size. Your children are more valuable than anything else in your life, so do all that you can to protect them while riding in the car.


Accountability In your Kids


Cambridge Nanny Group’s founder, Ingrid Kellaghan, discusses Accountability in your kids in with
Home    Accountability in Your Kids: Chores

Accountability in Your Kids: Chores

It is the age old question pondered by parents worldwide; when is it appropriate to have my child participate in chores and what are appropriate requests for their age? To help answer the “what’s” and “when’s” of the situation, Skinnymom enlisted the help of some professionals. Ingrid Kellaghan is the founder and CEO of Cambridge Nanny Group and Tammy Gold is the owner of Gold Parent Coaching.So what are the first steps to assigning a child regular chores? According to Tammy Gold, it’s best to choose from a list of chores appropriate to the child’s age. Here are her suggestions by age group:

  • For children 3-5 years of age, have them put dirty clothes in the hamper, bring plates to the table and help set the dinner table.
  • For children 6-10 years of age, have them make their own bed, put away clean laundry and help with outdoor chores.
  • For children 11-13 years of age, have them begin completing homework assignments unassisted, do outside volunteer work and help look after younger siblings.
  • Finally, for children 15-18, Gold recommends allowing them to have a part-time job and help with bigger issues at home including watching younger siblings unsupervised for extended periods of time.

While discovering the right chores to assign to your child may be simple, getting your child to complete the chores and consistently stay on track can be a whole other story. To assist your children in staying organized, Ingrid Kelleghan suggests using a chore chart. She says it “teaches kids about responsibility in a fun and visually engaging way.” On the chart she recommends having each child’s name, their particular responsibility, and a box to check it off. She also recommends having a “weekly prize” list for the children to choose from. This list can include such events as an ice cream party, visiting with a friend or going to the Zoo. While providing children with fun and engaging activities as a reward is always a great option, Kelleghan says parents should steer clear of giving children money, at least until they have passed the age of 10.

For those with children who refuse to do chores despite a grand reward system, Tammy Gold suggests refusing that child certain

photo credit:

rewards that other family members have. For example, if a child cannot bring their dish to the sink to help out, then they should not be allowed to have dessert. She also believes that children should be made to understand that having chores is not a form of punishment, but instead part of “being in a family” and in a family, everyone must do their part.

Regardless of what chores you choose for your children, know that by having them participate, you are not only teaching them responsibility but also the importance of caring for others. Having chores helps to build character in children, teaches them the value of a job well done and in a world where most of the time it’s all about them, shows them that sometimes it’s also important to help out others. So get your charts ready and begin delegating. You’re not just raising children here; you’re also raising future moms and dads, so make certain you’re raising them right.

For more information on Ingrid Kellaghan  and Cambridge Nanny Group, visit

For more information on Tammy Gold and Gold Parent Coaching, visit