Blog by Leigh Rolnicki from

Res·pite [res-pit]

Noun:  A delay or cessation for a time, especially of anything distressing or trying; an interval of relief

Verb: To relieve temporarily, especially from anything distressing or trying; give an interval of relief from

No matter how you say it – stay, hiatus, rest, recess, postpone, suspend – respite is something that all parents need from time to time. It’s especially true of parents who are raising one or more children on the autism spectrum.

If this describes you or someone you know, then you’re probably already aware that caring for a child on the spectrum can be rewarding one day and devastating the next. In fact, those emotions and more can be experienced within the same hour some days.

It’s common that a lot of responsibility and taking care of children (on the spectrum or not) falls to the mom. This doesn’t mean the dads aren’t involved, but as moms we often take on more because that’s who we are and what we instinctively do. We love our children and want what’s best. And sometimes what’s best is for us to take a break away from our special needs child to recharge and refresh.

Thinking about doing this can make many women uncomfortable. That’s OK. But there are some compelling reasons as to why this is not only good for you, but also good for your child on the spectrum, and other neurotypical children you may have and marriage.

What Is Respite Care?

At its simplest, respite care is a break from the action. It’s a stepping back so you can catch your breath, recharge your batteries and spend a little bit of time caring for yourself. It can be time to hang with your other kids if you have them, visit with friends, be with your significant other conversing beyond, “How was your day?”

It sounds great, but many parents, especially moms, fight respite care. It may be hard to walk away from your enormous responsibility of caring for your child, but doing so can make a world of difference in how you interact with him or her when you return. There’s no shame or guilt in taking a break – everyone needs one now and then.

Try thinking of it this way. If you’ve flown on a plane, then you know that flight attendants always instruct that parents should put on their oxygen masks first before they put a mask on a child. This at first sounds counter-intuitive and uncaring. No parent wants to see her child struggle for breath in a scary situation. But it makes perfect sense – take care of you first so you’re able to take care of your child. Respite care is the same thing.

But it’s not all about you.

Your child may also benefit from a break. While routine and familiarity is what children on the spectrum favor, it’s a good thing for them to expand their relationships beyond their direct family to other caregivers. Not only might it encourage a bit more independence, but also provide successful solutions to matters where the child might have become “stuck,” such as going to the bathroom instead of using a diaper. Sometimes someone different can coax out behaviors that the child won’t do for the parents.

Length Of Time Varies

Respite can mean 15 minutes. It can mean a weekly date night. Or it can mean a few quiet days away. Only you will be able to determine what makes the most sense for your family situation and budget. If you can regularly schedule respite breaks they will become part of your family routine, which will help smooth the transition each time you go away.

Finding A Caregiver

Finding a caregiver that you like and trust to do the best job may not be as difficult as you think. A search for “respite care for autism St. Louis” on the Autism Speaks website netted several potential services and individual caregivers. While not an autism organization, TLC for Kids is a local nanny agency that has multiple caregivers with autism experience.

The key to finding someone who is right for your family will be asking many questions to gain a comfort level with the potential service/caregiver and being clear about the needs of your child. Any fears, hesitations and concerns should be expressed during your conversation(s) to provide the greatest level of comfort for you.

Stabilizing Your Foundation

So as we close Autism Awareness Month for 2013, we at LoveU2Pieces, asks you to remember:

It’s About Time…

Time To Breathe…

Time To Build…

Time To Blossom…

Raising a child on the autism spectrum brings with it a unique set of challenges… Not just for the child, but for the parents, siblings, grandparents and friends.

Take the time and garner the support you need to raise healthy, successful children in a strong, supportive environment. Rejuvenate, re-energize, take care of yourself, so that you can be the best for your family.


A special thank you to Leigh Rolnicki from for this guest post!

Decked out in their pajamas, Bodhi, Kai, Drake and Roman colored with markers and listened to a complete stranger read aloud Pete the Cat while their moms and dads slipped out the front door.

That the young boys didn’t know Melissa Rincon meant little; meeting new sitters is old hat when you’re between the ages of 3 and 6. But tonight, their parents had only met Rincon 15 minutes earlier when she knocked on Jodi Gallant’s door and introduced herself as the babysitter…

In a matter of minutes, Gallant versed Rincon, 24, about acceptable snacks, bedtime tricks and procedures for operating the television remote, while Drake and Roman’s mom checked out her vibe. Feeling assured, the parents were then on their way to the SoHo Beach House.

“Good luck,” Gallant said. Gallant’s husband, Stuart Sheldon, calls the service “convenient” and trustworthy.

“These guys are great. I had no hesitancy at all,” he said of TLC for Kids, the Miami company that employs Rincon. Co-president Sharon Graff-Radell…said sites that register millions of sitters may not catch everyone who has a red flag in their background, or who isn’t qualified to watch kids. “The problem with these online sites is people have a false sense of security,” she said. “They’re Internet companies. They’re not child-care companies. They’re the of child care.”

Graff-Radell said TLC… connects [parents] for a fee with one of its sitters, all of whom have minimum credentials like CPR certification, and have undergone…background checks. Families can also request sitters they’re familiar with.

“I have to take responsibility for everyone I send out, so it’s safer to use a service like mine than really to hire the high school kid two blocks away,” she said.

That commitment, a bio they received about TLC employee Rincon, and a phone conversation the night before was enough to make Jodi Gallant, her husband and their friends visiting with their boys from California feel comfortable. Rincon said she works at a day care at Florida International University, where she’s studying early childhood education.

“She called me and wanted to know what the boys were interested in, and she brought her own coloring books. Most babysitters never do that,” said Gallant as Rincon got to know her kids. “I just instantly felt a good feeling.”

Then Rincon brought out the goody bag and Pete the Cat: I Love My White Shoes. And with the boys distracted by the story of how Pete stepped in a pile of strawberries, the parents quietly headed to Miami Beach.

National Nanny Training Day was a big success.  We loved being a part of an event that showed appreciation to nannies across the nation.

A big part of NNTD was also getting to meet and talk to other nannies.   TLC For Kids has a Meetup group and we want to invite you to join us.  The group is designed to help nannies connect with other nannies and show support for each other.  Every nanny needs a place where they can learn and grow so join us!

Joining the TLC For Kids Meetup group is easy.  Just hop over to the Meetup page, register (it’s free)  and come play with us!
Can’t wait to see you at the next event!


TLC For Kids has been placing nannies in St. Louis since 1985.  Now we have expanded and are helping families find Miami nannies.

Regardless of the approach parents take to finding a nanny, interviewing is an extremely important part of any parent’s nanny search and many potential problems in the employer/employee relationship can be avoided if the interview is properly conducted.

When interviewing a nanny, rely on your intuition and observations when evaluating the nanny’s responses, mannerisms and appearance. A parent’s impression of a nanny candidate can be a telling sign if the nanny is a good fit for the family.

During the interview, parents should first inquire about the nanny’s background, experience, training, driv­ing record and other skills related to working with children. Then, by asking open ended questions about the nanny’s interests, after work activities, and child care philosophies, parents can better evaluate how compatible the nanny is with their family.

When describing employment expectations, parents should be specific about job duties, hours, salary, time off and other practicalities of the position. Seeing and hearing the candidate’s reaction can provide valu­able clues to how the nanny will feel about the position.

Parents should also observe the nanny with their children before offering the nanny the position. Take note of how the nanny interacts with the children and how the children respond to the nanny.

When deciding which nanny to hire, carefully weigh all the information gathered about each candidate. Check each nanny’s references (even if they come from an agency) and interview the top candidates a second time before offering the position. Parents should listen to their intuition and remember that the nanny will be a part of their family’s life. They should ask themselves, “Does this candidate seem as though she will fit in well with our family and work well with our children?”

When looking for a nanny in Miami you need to gather as much information as you can on the nanny. 
In order to get a clear understanding of the person you are hiring you need to check as many references as possible.
You also need to conduct a thorough background check. If you were going to work for a new employer chances are they would request some sort of background check. And you should do the same if you are hiring someone to work for you, in your home, to watch your children.
Here is a list of background checks recommended by TLC For Kids. These checks can be done through an investigation company that specializes in household employee checks.
1. Child Abuse and Neglect Screening.
2. Sex Abuse Registry
3. Name, Address and Social Security Verification Match their name with SS# given to you.
4. State and County Criminal Records Check the applicants past addresses and run checks in those counties and states.
5. Driving Record Again, take the past addresses and run a driver’s record check in those states.
The most important thing to remember when conducting the investigation is to be thorough and diligent. The more information you receive, the more confidence you will have in your new sitter or nanny.

Saturday April 20th is National Nanny Training Day.  TLC For Kids is proud to sponsor this event and we are looking forward to spending time with all the great nannies in St. Louis.  We have a few spots remaining so give us a call today!

Here is the agenda:

Session #1A (9:30-11:30): FEW SPOTS REMAINING

Safe to Sleep/Sleep Training/Knowledge from the NICU

Kelly Weygandt ( a TLC client) will present Safe to Sleep program, which strives to educate parents, caregivers and medical personnel about how to reduce the risk of SIDS and SIDS related death.

Learn strategies that caregivers may share with parents to promote healthy sleep habits in young children in order to help them to independently and peacefully go to sleep and stay asleep.

Anna Schmidt is a registered nurse in the St. Louis Children’s Hospital NICU. She will share with our nannies tips on comforting newborns and feeding preemies.

Session #1B (9:30 – 11:30)

Why Won’t They Just Behave? – Addressing challenging behavior and inclusion of preschool-age children.

United 4 Children

Come to this training and learn ways to work with even the most challenging children. If you want to learn more then redirection and praise this class is for you. We will talk about all forms of positive discipline as well as ways you can be proactive with all the children in your care to teach them conflict resolution, emotional literacy, and impulse control. You will leave with practical strategies you can begin using in your program on Monday morning. Working with children with special needs will also be discussed in this training.

Break (11:30 – 12:15)

Chat sessions with other nannies/temp sitters/Lunch.

Bring your own lunch.

TLC’s Jessica Friedman will initiate the chat session by introducing nannies and temps to her Meetup Group specifically designed for nannies to get together. We know working as a nanny can be quite isolating, but it needn’t be!

Session #2 Nutrition  (12:15 – 2:15)

Kristen Kettenbach, ND, will share with you her knowledge of nutrition and how you can teach children healthy eating habits from a young age in order to combat childhood obesity and to give children tools they can use to be healthy eaters throughout their lives.
We also have some great attendance prizes from  Thirty-one Gifts, Beauty Brands, and more!

TLC For Kids Miami is so excited to be  at the Green Baby Fair in Miami this weekend.

If you are looking for a nanny in Miami swing by our booth and talk to us.  We also have screened Miami babysitters who will come to your home.  If you can’t make it Saturday call us at (305) 256-5905.

Here are a few green activities for caregivers to do with kids:

1. Encourage walking, biking and public transit with the kids which can be much more of an adventure than driving.
2. Have the sitter make a poster of a big pile of plastic water bottles with the kids. Every time they find one to recycle, the kids can erase it from the pile… It teaches them to know how wasteful a simple thing as a water bottle can be.
3. Encourage [green] behavior by involving the kids and nanny in a garden. No matter how big or small, a simple pot could grow a tomato plant
4.  Start a compost pile.  Keeping your food scraps and composting them is a great way to keep your trash “foot print” small.
5.  Recycle water.  Put a rain barrel outside to collect the rain water.  Your kids and nanny can use the recycled water for your garden.
6.  Use old cardboard cut into pieces and cardboard rolls to make roads and tunnels for toy cars, trains or people.

Working with children is a rewarding and fulfilling job.

Today’s nannies are responsible for the complete care of their employer’s children. Duties include tending to each child’s basic physical needs, meal planning and preparation and  laundry and clothing care.  Nannies also organize play activities and outings (providing transportation when required).   With the parents’ insights a nanny enforces behavioral guidelines and disciplining when appropriate.  Like educators, nannies provide intellectual stimulation and language activities.   A nanny must be able to communicate well with both children and parents.

A nanny is a childcare provider whose workplace is in a family’s private home. The nanny’s role is to provide support to the family by serving as a loving, nurturing and trustworthy companion to the children. A nanny offers the family convenient, high quality care to meet each child’s physical, emotional, social and intellectual needs.

The safest way to find a nanny job is through a trusted nanny agency or another trusted source.  When interviewing with a family make sure you are prepared to ask them questions as well.  The interview is an opportunity for you to find out about the job description, days and hours, salary and the families child care philosophy.

TLC For Kids is always looking for great full time nannies.  Click to see a list of some of our current nanny jobs.

2013 INA Annual Conference

This weekend in the INA Annual Conference and it’s in Louisville, KY!  The conference is a great opportunity to network and meet nannies from all over the country.

The conference holds seminars for nannies and agency owners.  The seminars for the nannies look great!   Presenters will speak on the following topics: How To Stand Out in an Interview, Teaching Thematic Learning Stations, Teaching Responsibility, Dealing with Grief and so much more!  There are also seminars scheduled on working with newborns.

Agency owners also get a chance to network and attend seminars geared towards them.  TLC is proud of our own Jessica Friedman and Angela Lehmann who will be presenting a seminar on marketing and recruiting caregivers!

The INA will also be honoring this year’s Nanny of the Year.  Looks like a great weekend.

Have fun!

Since 1985 TLC has been providing nanny and babysitting services for St. Louis hotels.

Now, TLC Miami offers hotel babysitting services.  Our professionally screened, warm, nuturing and mature caregivers are  selected specially for their experience, reliability and commitment to quality child care.



They will come to your hotel and watch the children while you enjoy an evening out.  Our hotel sitters will bring age appropriate toys and games for the children to play.

TLC for Kids services some of Miami’s best hotels like the Canyon Ranch Spa, Fountainebleau, The Ritz-Carlton Key Biscayne, and The Ritz-Carlton Coconut Grove.

If you would like a TLC sitter to come to your Miami hotel you can make reservations on line.  Please try to give as much notice as possible when reserving a TLC hotel sitter.