DEAR HARRIETTE: I have agreed to nanny for a family for the month of July this summer. Baby-sitting for one day is a lot of work mentally and physically, so I can't imagine how tired I will be after a month of working with the kids.
I have already agreed to work for the month, but I have been thinking about speaking with the parents to ask for a couple of nights off. I think if I get one night off a week (so four nights during the month), it would be less draining. How do you think I should approach this? Is one night off a week the right amount? -- Overworked Nanny, Boston
DEAR OVERWORKED NANNY: It is perfectly fine for you to ask to revisit your agreement for the month of July. You have far more leverage now, before the work begins, to discuss your request and figure out a solution with the family. If they value you and the way that you interact with their children, they should be amenable to supporting your needs.
Be firm and clear. Let them know how much you enjoy working with their children, even if it is taxing. In order to be your best, you need one night a week to yourself. You should also review your general free time during the month. Are you literally on call 24 hours a day? If so, are you paid for those hours? Going from baby-sitting for a few hours a day to a month of overnighters is a completely different scenario. Make sure you are being fairly compensated for the many additional hours.
DEAR HARRIETTE: I fly quite frequently, so I have seen it all when it comes to airport dramas. I have witnessed everything from fights with flight attendants to grown men getting motion sickness on the plane. What is your opinion on proper airplane etiquette, specifically while on the plane? What do you think about people taking off their shoes on the plane? The person next to you using the arm rest for the duration of the flight? Should people be allowed to push past you in the aisle once the plane lands? If there are any other do's and don'ts of airline etiquette, I would love to know! -- Flyer Etiquette, Dallas
DEAR FLYER ETIQUETTE: Ah, there should be a book about airplane etiquette -- if there isn't one already! It used to be that people dressed up in their Sunday best before heading to the airport. The idea was that this was a special outing, and everyone should be on their best behavior.
Today, people are commonly impatient and oblivious to their neighbors. What should you do? Use common sense. It is OK to take off your shoes, as feet often swell on planes. But make sure your socks are clean and that you don't have foot odor before you do this. Share the arm rest. If possible, use one and leave the other for the person sitting next to you. Before the plane lands, check to see that your personal belongings are in order. When it lands, wait to move through the aisles to retrieve your stowed bags. If you have to get to a connecting flight, let people know and ask to move ahead of passengers who are disembarking. Finally, be willing to change seats if a parent and child need to sit together. Readers, do you have any other advice?
Harriette Cole is a lifestylist and founder of DREAMLEAPERS, an initiative to help people access and activate their dreams. You can send questions to firstname.lastname@example.org or c/o Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106