Coffee Break: 4-Piece Packing Cube Set

I picked up a set of these on Prime Day and am pleased with them, particularly for between $17–$25. These are four of the biggest sizes of packing cubes; they’re soft-sided and squooshable, and the mesh makes it very easy to see what’s in them. I haven’t been a fan of packing cubes before, but these have made me a convert! Readers who like to use packing cubes — what are your tips? Do you use them for all trips or only longer trips? For the moms to little kids (and others who may be packing multiple people’s clothes), do you prefer to do a day system (one cube for one day) or a “person” system (one cube per one person)? AmazonBasics 4-Piece Packing Cube Set – Large

Psst: Minor news alert: The Limited is back online with a collection of affordable workwear (and plus sizes!). Has anyone ordered yet?

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  1. Open Enrollment fun :

    Help me health insurance…am I correct that my out-of-pocket maximum is the most I can pay for health care in one year? I’m expecting a baby in 2018 and the cost of delivery is likely to be around $15-20k. So if I buy a plan with an OOP max of $3,500, is it true that I will only pay $3,500 of this amount? Or will I owe $3,500 to the doctor + $3,500 to the hospital + $3,500 in labs (ultrasounds, etc.)? If I can choose between a plan with a $0 annual premium and an out of pocket max of $5,000 and a plan with a $500 annual premium and an out of pocket max of $3,500, it makes sense to choose the $500 premium plan, at least for this year, since I know my health costs this year will exceed $5k…right? Both are HSA plans and my employer would contribute the same amount to my HSA and allow me to contribute the same amount on a pre-tax basis so I don’t think that is a factor.

    • Are you putting your baby on your insurance? If so, there is usually an OOP max for each person and for the family. You will have a separate deductable for the baby.

      • Anonymous :

        I don’t know if this is “usually”. I know you can do this with the deductible, though there are definitely a lot plans where you still have to hit the family deductible before you get to insurance to cover anything for anyone on the plan. But I don’t know that I’ve ever heard of a separate OOP for each individual on the plan.

        To the OP – yes, the OOP typically refers to any bill that has been referred to insurance (made a claim) that ultimately got passed to you- labs/dr vists/prescriptions/etc. If you have a phone number for the insurance provider in your forms, definitely call and ask them as well.

      • Anonymous :

        Baby will probably go on husband’s insurance. But the labor/delivery charges are all for me, right? That doesn’t count as baby’s health expenses I thought.

        • If the baby is on your huspand’s insurance, make sure there is an in network hospital for both insurance plans. Otherwise you may have trouble.

          • Anonymous :

            Yep, we have the same employer so all the insurance networks are the same. He’ll definitely get the $0 premium plan this year because he doesn’t anticipate big medical expenses. Should we anticipate $3,500 or more in medical charges for the baby? I was assuming if she’s healthy, healthcare costs would be pretty minimal since well-baby visits are free.

          • Even a few hours of post-birth monitoring can get very expensive. Both of my “healthy” babies had this from a some birth trauma. One also had minor jaundice and ended up readmitted to a hospital. My friends have had similar instances–tiny people are fragile and they like to monitor. I wouldn’t assume that a “healthy” baby won’t have medical bills.

          • Anonymous :

            So much this.

            I had a healthy baby and a normal pregnancy until they figured out at my 36-week appt that I was leaking amniotic fluid and needed an emergency C-section. Baby had to spend time in the NICU. It gets expensive quick. Hope for the best but make contingency plans in case the worst happens.

        • This will depend on what happens with the birth. If baby needs any special treatment, it will be under whatever plan they are on.

    • Make sure you understand the deductible, too. The numbers you list ($3500) sound more like deductibles than OOP maxes for a plan with $0 premium but maybe you just have better insurance!

      • Anonymous :

        The deductible is $2500 for the $0 premium plan and $1500 for the $500 premium plan. I don’t think the difference matters because I’m definitely going to hit it either way.

        • Well, maybe. You certainly will hit the deductible but I had a $20k delivery and didn’t hit my OOP max. Because my copay/coinsurance after the deductible was met was quite low. So, worth looking at that as well. I was surprised.

    • I am in almost the exact same situation as you, except I am TTC. We may even work for the same company. I went with the plan that had the lower OOP max, even though it had the higher annual premium, while my husband will be on the $0 annual premium plan. My financial adviser said it made a lot of sense to do it that way. One friend did caution that if we decide to combine plans in the future, my doctor may not accept me with an insurance change. I’ll take that chance, since I have to get new insurance with the HSA this year anyway. I’m still not sure which plan the new baby would be on, but I have 9 months to figure that out. My first didn’t have any health issues, just the regular post-birth exams.

    • Just went through this :

      It depends on your coverage; the OOP max is calculated based on qualified costs only, and those are dictated by your plan. For instance, my plan only authorizes 45 physical therapy appointments per year, even if my doctor thinks I need more. So even after I hit my OOP max in health care spending, I still have to pay for the extra physical therapy appointments OOP because the plan thinks 45 should have been enough. It’s not awesome. That is an understatement for how I really feel.

      • Anonymous :

        45 is really quite good. For example, Medicare has a cap on PT that works out to about half of what you get.

        Did you know that most health insurance companies have avenues for increasing that limit? Often you can appeal, and if you have a medical diagnosis that qualifies and evidence of clinical improvement etc… you can sometimes increase that number. Talk with your plan, your benefits office, and the finance person at your PT to make sure you learn about all of your options. Often your health insurance is evasive about this….

      • Anonymous :

        Man, I’m jealous. Our limit is 20, and it’s a hard cap. My ortho and PT have tried appealing before and gotten nowhere.

  2. Senior Attorney :

    I love the packing cubes! My system is to pack like items together. So, for example, for my recent cycling trip I had a cube with all my cycling gear, one for swimwear, one for casual tops, one for casual bottoms, and so on. And then I had one that was only the things I needed for a two-day stop in Paris on the way home. I have tried a lot of packing techniques and have to say these things have been a game-changer.

    I do suggest getting a variety of sizes so you can have smaller ones for things like swimwear and undies.

  3. How Long? :

    I posted a few weeks ago that my husband told me he had feelings for someone else shortly after I quit my job. Thanks to everyone for the advice and support. We’ve had several long conversations since then, and he’s decided he doesn’t want to even try to save our marriage. He won’t go to counseling with me (I’m going by myself and he’s apparently going by himself). Luckily, I was able to get my job back. On a related note, going through a divorce while trying to earn respect back at work after quitting and coming back is… not fun or easy.

    • Anonymous :

      That’s a relief that you were able to get it back. People at work will forget the circumstances of your return. I’m so sorry this happened to you and that it will be tough for awhile.

      • Anonymous :


        And honestly, among a select few co-workers… you will gain some support/understanding when they sense the reasons for leaving (and your disappointment of a husband).

        I’m so sorry to hear you are dealing with this. Hang in there.

    • Blonde Lawyer :

      I’m so glad you were able to get your job back. I’m sorry about the husband. I hope you find happiness once all the dust settles.

    • So, so glad that you were able to get your job back. This is such an important example of why it’s important to leave jobs on good terms if you can–you just never know what’s going to happen.

      And I’m SO sorry that things have turned out the way that they have.

      • +1

        I’ve been a prodigal employee, so to say, myself and while there were a few (mostly harmless) digs and jokes, people move on. Thank god I left on great terms. Frankly, I can’t imagine being anything *but* sympathetic to you. If your coworkers continue to be rude, they’re jerks. It’s perfectly understandable to make career choices based on our family’s needs, and sometimes that doesn’t work out. That’s life, not anything you did wrong.

        • How Long? :

          I will say–everyone has been so supportive and kind, so that is good. I think it’s mostly my own insecurity and self consciousness.

          Thanks for the well wishes, everyone. There have been a couple of not-awful days lately, and I just keep thinking about the people I know who have been through something similar and who are even more happy now.

          • Never too many shoes... :

            I am also so glad to hear that you were able to return to your job and I hope that you find happiness once again.

    • Triangle Pose :

      So glad you got it back. Upwards and onwards. I know it will be hard. Please post here if you need encouragement or distractions!

    • Senior Attorney :

      Oh, my. I’m so glad you were able to get your job back, but I can only imagine how hard all of this must be. Hang in there and remember the only way out is through!

    • Baconpancakes :

      I feel so much sympathy for you in this tough situation, and I hope you start to feel a tiny bit better on at least one front soon. Hugs.

    • Oh my. I am SO glad you were able to get your job back. It sounds really tough, but also glad to hear that at least your husband was honest about what he wanted sooner rather than later so that you can at least start to move on personally and financially. All the best of luck and try to treat yourself gently during this time.

    • Aquae Sulis :

      I’m so sorry that you’re going through this.

    • I’m so sorry you’re going through this, from this anonymous internet stranger. I’m rooting for you. *hugs*

  4. Bento shchmento :

    Anyone want to help me find a bento box for my kids’ lunch? Must be BPA-free, dishwasher safe, and have a secure lid (but not so secure that a 3 year old would have trouble). Does not need to go into microwave. I’m overwhelmed at the options on Amazon and curious if anyone has one that they love. Thanks!

    • My kids use Bentgo Kids. We’ve been happy with it, and it meets all of your criteria. I pack it in a Lands End lunchbox with two flat “cool coolers” ice packs, and the system works well. The biggest plus to this lunchbox is that liquids don’t leak from one compartment to another, at least for foods like pudding/applesauce/etc. I wouldn’t pack like, soup or vinaigrette in it. And the amount of food was great up until 6 years old (for a kid with a big appetite).

    • We have a couple sets from Bentology: I use them for my lunch as well. I always wash them by hand but the FAQ says they are dishwasher-safe. I think my son was 4 when we started using them (back then the company was called laptop lunches).

    • We got a YumBox this year and have been happy so far.

    • LunchEnthusiast :

      I use these ( and they do exactly what I need them to do. They also fit perfectly inside this lunchbox (

      • Bento shchmento :

        Thanks! These were exactly the ones I was looking at, mostly because I want to try this Bento system out and don’t want to pay too much. Lots of reviews that the lids don’t stay on, though. Any issues there?

    • Anonymous :

      I am totally obsessed with our Planetboxes, especially since they are one piece so you can’t lose any of the lids or parts. They wash beautifully in the dishwasher and are in perfect condition after 3.5 years of heavy use. Expensive but so, so worth it.

      • I second this recommendation of Planetbox. Excellent product. I stick them in the dishwasher every time. Love that the lid cannot be lost. Metal is so much better than plastic(no smells, no stains). I love them and my kids do too. Worth the money.

    • anonymous :

      Secure enough, but not for liquids. We used to have the Bentgo kids and liked it, but this is lasting longer.

    • What do you want to use it for? I use a gladlock entree size container and silicone cupcake wrappers (I bought the fun shapes, which make me happy even though the kids could care less). I mostly use it for finger foods that don’t leak (raspberries, grapes, crackers, olives, cereal etc.), and as far as I can tell, everything stays separate. I add a separate yogurt or string cheese or both for protein.

  5. Anonymous :

    I like packing cubes mostly for the ability to segregate my underwear and swimwear and hosiery from other items. It has been less of an issue recently, but for awhile I would almost always find my bags had been pilfered (or pillaged) by security/bag handlers at some point and the thought of having my undergarments strewn everywhere and then stuffed back in the bag was unpleasant. I also find them useful for the organization and ease of packing and unpacking. I’ve not found them to be a miracle as far as getting more into a bag.

    • I think I actually get less in the same space with packing cubes because I would use them to corral the small items like socks that I otherwise would stuff into small open spaces. I stopped using them for clothes and now just use them for electronics and chargers.

      • Squiggles :

        I found the same thing. I bought a set to use on a trip to California for a wedding. Ended up using 1 cube just for my dress and underpinnings. Underwear went into baggies (because of the riffling issue). Otherwise, everything was folded small and put where it fit the best.

        I am aiming to use mine again for a trip this coming winter. Hopefully, because I won’t be bringing gifts and such, it should work like a charm.

      • Agree. Or they’d be useful for organizing clothes if I was going on an extended trip a long trip with sharply different clothing requirements in different locations. Then I’d want to segregate, say, beach from winter wear. But otherwise I think I’m better at cramming things into my bag without them.

    • Senior Attorney :

      They are great for trips where you are moving around a lot. My last trip involved staying five or six places in two weeks, and it was great to be able to use the packing cubes to stay organized while living out of a suitcase.

  6. I have an 14 year old minivan that I need to sell or donate (because I’m getting a used car as a hand-me-down from a family member). Blue book value is only $2,000, but trade-in value is only $800. I’m almost embarrassed to sell it because it has a bunch of scratches on the outside and I’d also feel bad if it died soon after it was purchased. But, I also put in $600 worth of new tires in about 3 months ag0 and if I didn’t have the hand-me-down car, I’d happily keep it for a few more years at least. Has anyone here sold a car recently and if so, did you take it to the dealership or use Craigslist or is there another option? What would you do if you were in my shoes?

    • Ask your mechanic if they have any customers who are interested in an old but hopefully decently reliable car. Or donate.

    • Veronica Mars :

      Where are you located? I’m looking to buy an old-but reliable car for a family friend. If you’re in the South, [email protected]

    • Anonymous :

      I’d donate. Our refugee resettlement folks can always use them for transport, donations, etc. You could change someone else’s life.

    • I’ve sold old cars on Craigslist before. At least in my area, there are plenty of handy people looking for something cheap to fix up. With my last car, my sister had a friend who had left her abusive husband and needed a car so I just gave her my old Civic. It wasn’t much to look at and had a lot of miles on it, but it still ran well.

  7. Open Enrollment #2 :

    I know many of you are (more) financially literate than me…question about 401(K) versus Roth 401(K).

    I’m a third year in BigLaw, and have been seriously throwing money at my loans for the past two years. I’ve also been investing in my 401(K), about $10K this year. I didn’t realize that a Roth 401(K) was an option, because I thought I was over the income limit for a Roth, but apparently there’s no income limit for Roth 401(K). Whoops.

    Question is, how do I allocate next year’s retirement funds between a 401(K) and a Roth 401(K)? If I’m not sure if I want to stay in BigLaw for the long haul, does the answer change?

    • Anonymous :

      If you are in Biglaw you should be maxing out your 401k every single year. No exceptions. No excuses. You’re too rich for this nonsense.

      Generally, if you anticipate your taxes being lower in retirement, you should do a regular 401k, and as a very high earner now that’s probably what you should do.

      • Anonymous :

        Do you really think that when Millenials take over (and have to clean up the Boomers’ mess while supporting them) that tax rates will stay the same or fall? I’m skeptical, but genuinely interested in others’ thoughts.

        • Anonymous :

          I think in retirement when you aren’t earning a salary yes, your rates will be lower than as a BigLaw associate. And by contributing using pretax dollars you have more money available to you now to save.

        • First Year Anon :

          I don’t think that’s what she means, I think she’s referring to the fact that when you retire your taxable income (usually) goes down so your tax rate is lower.

        • Anonymous :

          It’s not so much that tax rates will fall, it’s that you’ll be taking less in income (since it will either be lower salary or only retirement income) and so you’ll be in a lower tax bracket because you have lower income.

        • Anonymous :

          Assuming you are maxing out either way, if you invest in the traditional 401k, you need to be saving and investing the tax savings, though, right? If you save $18k in the traditional and don’t invest the tax savings, you are likely not better off than if you save $18k after taxes in the Roth.

    • Anonymous :

      Put it all in the 401k not in Roth in your case — you are in a high tax bracket, it’s better to NOT pay taxes on it now (which is what you’d do if you were putting it into a Roth).

      • Anonymous :

        Once you reach the 401k limit, is it best to then use a Roth? Because then you’ll be paying taxes anyway, right?

        • After I reach the 401k max, I don’t contribute to a non-tax-advantaged retirement savings vehicle; I just save the money. Savings account or Vanguard index fund.

        • Anonymous :

          You can’t. The 18k limit applies across both the 401k and the roth401k in the aggregate.

        • Anonymous :

          Another option is to contribute to another tax-advantaged account like an HSA (if you have a HDHP plan). That way, you can meet the limit on both tax-advantaged accounts, and then start saving in another savings account.

      • Anonymous :

        Nope — after I get to the 18k max for the 401k (it’s a total max – whether you do the 401k, roth 401k or both), then I go to the brokerage account. Like you I’m in a non-deductible income range for the IRA — and I know there are some preferences to doing a non deductible IRA and then converting it backdoor. But honestly I feel like I’d never do that — I’d just sit there with a non deductible IRA on which I’d have to pay ordinary income tax upon withdrawal; so it’s tax advantaged for me to go brokerage instead — bc there I pay lower capital gains rates on gains, rather than ordinary income rates.

        • If you contribute $18k to a Roth, you are contributing more to the Roth than if you contributed $18k to a 401(k) (because it’s after-tax). If tax rates stayed the same, you would end up the same place by contributing $18k to a 401(k) or $18k after tax (call it $12k) to a Roth. Maxing out a Roth forces you to save more.

          One advantage of a Roth is you’re not required to take forced distributions at 70.5 (which may only matter if you have a ton of money).

          Personally, DH does not have a Roth option, so we split the difference – his goes in a 401(k) and mine goes in a Roth.

    • First, I know the huge loans are scary, but you should contribute the 18k max. Second, as for traditional versus Roth, my split is 85% in regular, 15% in Roth. I am also in biglaw. While I am in a high tax bracket now, for tax diversification purposes, I like having some in Roth. That way, let’s say the first year I retire, for some reason I am in a higher tax bracket then than I am now (such as spouse still working, tax bracket changes, etc.) I have the ability to withdrawal non-taxable money out. Then as my brackets shift and it makes more sense to pull out of the traditional 401k, then I would pull from that source.

  8. London in mid Nov - what to wear? :

    I hope that the UK based ladies can help me. I will be in London for a work trip in the second half of Nov and I’m not sure what to wear. I live in a tropical climate and own the below.

    1. Warm cashmere knee length winter coat
    2. Couple of NM cashmere sweaters
    3. No boots and I’d rather not buy them just for a short business trip
    4. Warm tweed blazers that I could wear with pants
    5. Gloves, wool scarf etc

    Would I need more? Any advice would be appreciated.

    • Anonymous :

      Boots. Sorry! If it rains every day you’ll be glad to have them.

    • Anonymous :

      A 2 year+ expat here in England…highly recommend bringing a jacket with a hood if you can! It rains here frequently this time of year and it’s nice to have a hood! Also, good flat shoes for walking!

    • pineapple :

      You need a coat that you don’t mind getting wet. It will probably rain….a lot.

    • I’ve lived here my whole life and haven’t owned a hooded coat forever. Umbrellas are your friend if you don’t want to need a hood. Comfortable shoes, which are waterproof are really important – you’ll walk a lot and having wet feet is pretty miserable.

    • For a work trip, you should be fine with what you have. I live in London and I don’t own a hooded coat even though I walk to and from work every day (I have a jacket with a hood that I only wear in the countryside for hiking). You should also be OK without boots if you are spending most of your time indoors/taking taxis. November is not that cold here, in the 50s, and rain is rarely heavy.

  9. Will these work on a pear? :

    anyone tried these? Love them, but not sure they would work on a pear.

    Women’s Mid Rise Doublecloth Pencil Pants in Arctic grey

    • Will these work on a pear? :

  10. Anonymous :

    So if a (work) friend is 6 months pregnant, having a hard time even acknowledging the pregnancy to others but is telling you – a friend – OMG what have I done, isn’t sure about kids etc – what do you say? Complicated by the fact that I don’t have kids and while I consider her a friend, I’m conscious that this is a work friend so I wouldn’t be as open as with a friend I’ve known for 20 yrs.

    • Anonymous :

      Suggest she get some therapy, cause whether she wanted kids or not she’s about to have one. And then bow out. “Sorry, this is just too personal for me.”

      • Therapy yes, but foreboding comment no.She knows she’s on track to give birth to a child–that’s what being pregnant is. But ultimately, she may not want to keep and raise this child, and it would be better to leave a space for her to figure that out and follow through on a different option than to just hammer her with the message that she’s made her bed and now deal with it.

        This is incredibly stigmatized and often, we only hear about it anonymously, but there are people who regret having children. If they could have found a solution earlier then everyone would have been better off.

        • I don’t know that it’s appropriate to recommend therapy to a coworker though?

          • She said a “(work) friend” so I was going with the friend part.

          • Oh yeah, I totally hear where you’re coming from! But coworker friendships are always tricky. My question mark is genuine, by the way. I really didn’t know if it’s appropriate or not.

        • Anonymous :

          Oh no I wasn’t suggesting actually saying that to her!

          She should get therapy to explore whether she wants to keep the baby or put it up for adoption, of course. All her coworker should say is above my pay grade get professional help.

          • +1, and if she keeps bringing it up at work just empathetic statements like “That sounds really tough. I’m sorry.”

    • I would personally just acknowledge feelings. Something like, “That sounds really hard.” “I can hear that you’re really stressed out.” She might also just want someone to acknowledge and then reassure. Something vague like, “I know a lot of expecting mothers worry, but then it works out fine” might do the trick.

      • Anonymous :

        +1. I had a friend who was always around big families esp on her husband’s side (4-6 kids) at weekend family events and then would come back and freak out about she couldn’t handled kids, what had she done etc. With her my refrain was — you are having ONE child, not 4 or 5 or 6 kids at once — so don’t worry about how parents of 6 kids do it.

    • Patricia Gardiner :

      I don’t know her circumstances so it may not be of interest- but there are so many couples waiting to adopt…

    • So I’m 5.5 months pregnant and have told very few colleagues. I don’t really want to tell others. I have also had the same thoughts as your work friend, and absolutely freak out at times that in less than 4 months I will be a mother! I think it totally normal to have those thoughts. However, my husband and I decided it was the right time to start our family and as the weeks roll on by, I am becoming more used to the idea.

  11. And more Waiting... :

    So I gave the company the dates I could travel this week when they emailed me Friday. And I haven’t heard back… I left a voicemail for the contact today. Remind me that this is normal, please. I’m getting super antsy.

    • Congratulations on making it to the next step, but if you are the same person who has posted every step of this process, I want to gently nudge you to take a breather. You might advance all the way to the last step and still not get picked. These things happen. You might get an offer but it’s not what you expect or hoped for or you might accept it and find that it’s a bad fit. Keep optimistic and hopeful but keep your eye out for other opportunities and keep your mind on other things in your life. It’s totally understandable to be antsy, but remember it’s only been one business day and likely they need to coordinate with others on their end before getting back to you.

    • Just calm the F down. It always takes longer.

  12. Yay that the Limited is (sort of back)! But everything is full price… $99 dresses, $70 tops… The appeal of the Limited is that I could get work clothes for $30. (I realize this is probably why they went out of business.) Any chance of that coming back?

    • Anonymous :

      How would anyone know this?

      • Just asking for others’ thoughts. No need to be rude. Did you really enjoy taking ten seconds out of your day to post a hateful and rhetorical question?

  13. My arms are falling :

    I held my arm out horitizontally in front of a mirror and it is . . . sagging a bit. And starting to have some flop in it. Is this something that pushups / planks / some light free weights would help with? Or is it just that you can’t really fight gravity?

    Ugh. Hate gravity!!!

    • Tricep pushups yes ones, not military style ones. Military style pushups work different muscles.

      Dips also help. You can do them on a chair if you aren’t strong enough to do full dips and/or don’t have anything to do them on.

    • Anonymous :

      And don’t confine yourself to light weights. You need to lift as much as you can in order to build muscle.

  14. I’m a little conflicted with my nanny. Please tell me if I should stop overreacting, or if my concerns are valid.

    My second child is 2.5 and she’s been home with a nanny since I went back to work. Her personality is different from my first child – she is very shy and an introvert (happiest when the guests are gone and she’s alone with mamma! ). It’s hard for her to get used to new caregivers. I’ve always known that it’ll be a huge struggle when she starts in preschool and my plan is to start her next fall when she’ll be 3.5.
    My nanny works from 9-6, essentially watching the younger child all day plus walking with her to the school and picking up older child. She then drives older child to an activity a couple times a week and they sit and watch from the sidelines.

    My nanny is extremely gentle and a pushover. Which means to my frustration that she often will succumb to what the kids want instead of laying down the law with respect to what I want. Overall, I’m ok with this because it’s more important for me to fully trust that the nanny is treating them kindly and well when I’m not looking. And I have full confidence in that. However recently I’ve had cause to re-evaluate this balance:

    (1) The nanny does very little work around the house. She will do stuff for the toddler / what I ask and nothing more. There will literally be socks on the floor that she’ll walk past rather than put them in laundry hamper. As my daughter has gotten older she plays well by herself for short periods of time. I expect a bit more from the nanny on other fronts. For example, organizing the kids clothes and sorting out the outgrown items. I’ve asked her to do it but I’ve had to redo it because there were wrongly classified items in both bins.

    (2) My nanny doesnt do a great job in furthering my daughter’s mental development. I’ve asked her to do legos, puzzles, tactile toys, playdoh, etc. with her and take turns bringing out the tons of toys we have shelved. She will agree but is either incapable or uncaring about doing the puzzles correctly. At one point she casually responded that “babies will be babies, they’ll learn things in their own time” and I gave her a very long and passionate response that we need to expose them to the right things in order for them to learn on their own time. I see my daughter playing with the same limited set of toys all the time.
    The nanny focuses still only on physical baby needs (eat, sleep) rather than cognitive development and maybe that’s just beyond her skill set.

    (3) Potty training. My kid has been on the verge of being potty trained for a year now, with zero input from any adults. She has always known that her big sibling uses the potty and she has been doing likewise for #2 for a year. She only needs a bit of a nudge towards #1. I gave the nanny a goal to get her there by the end of the year but she’s taking the easy path because my child cried when she had an accident in her underpants.

    I think reading the above that what I need is a sort of preschool teacher who will set limits and follow through etc. rather than an indulgent grandparent type, which is what I have.
    I like the freedom of having the nanny to watch the older child on school closed days, I like that the kids can relax at home, and I know she will keep them safe and fed etc., just not move forward with their developmental agendas. Most of which I guess they learn on their own anyway.

    I know any transition will be hard for my daughter. I have two choices: put her in preschool, have the nanny transition over a few months and let her learn and grow more. Or, switch nannies to someone else who can train her through the development she needs for another year and then put her in preschool. The latter has the advantage of continuing care for my older child. Thoughts?

    • Anonymous :

      1- she is a nanny not a maid. Organizing and sorting clothes by size and fit is not even the type of light tidying it is reasonable to expect.

      2- u serious with this? She doesn’t do puzzles the right way? What? If you want more formal education try a few mornings a week preschool.

      3- you gave your nanny a potty training goal? No. Absurd. She’s at a developmentally normal stage in this. Calm down.

      I think you just need to chill tbh. Or find a low key preschool for 2 mornings a week and ask the nanny to do housework in those times.

      • Yup.

        Also, your daughter is going to go through this transition sooner or later.

      • Anonymous :

        This. If you want a housekeeper you need to hire one. I don’t think your nanny is doing anything unreasonable.

      • Anonymous :


        Agree with all of this.

        The only thing I might do is leave a simple list if there is something you would like her to do that day. Playdough today. Go to the park today. Legos today. Go to the library reading hour today.

        Your child will be fine. You are her mother… how wouldn’t she be fine?

      • Did you hire the nanny having laid out any of these expectations very clearly up front? It sounds like you’re looking for a nanny + early childhood educator + house cleaner. A lot of nanny’s wouldn’t take the job knowing #s 2 and 3.

    • I don’t really have any comment on most of this because I don’t have kids, but at least with respect to the first point, does your nanny _agree_ with you that you should expect more from her on other fronts because your daughter plays on her own sometimes? It sounds like she might not. If you have to specifically ask her to do each non-kid-related thing you want her to do, she probably doesn’t think those things are really in her job description. Y’all might have a disconnect about what her job description is re anything not related to caring for your kids.

      • Yea, and depending on how much you’re paying her it might not be worth it for her to keep this job if you expect her to clean on top of taking care of your kids. My sister had a job as a nanny and was amazing with the kids but quit for this reason. She didn’t want to be a housekeeper and wasn’t getting paid enough to do something she didn’t want to do.

    • Your nanny is reliable. You are unlikely to get that again without (disruptive) trial and error.

      Why not reduce nannys hours or assign her housework during the hours and put your daughter in part time preschool? Mine stared going 9-11:30 2X/week at age 2 because we found she wasn’t getting the stimulation/socialization we wanted for her with the nanny.

      • This. My nanny usually only does housework before she picks up the kids. (And my kids are older). When the kids are home, I want her to be watching the kids, not worried about getting the dishes in the dishwasher etc.

        Also, my nanny (who is great, by the way) needs very specific instructions, which I am just not in a position to give her all the time. For example, sorting clothing didn’t work for me because clothes are sized differently.

    • Anonymous :

      Is it really a nanny’s job to potty train your kiddo? The parents I know have done this themselves, usually in a weekend or so.

      • Anonymous :

        It is one thing if you have you have been working with your kid and the nanny isn’t reinforcing the plan you’ve told her about. Having your nanny in charge of it seems inappropriate.

    • Senior Attorney :

      Oh my gosh! If I could have found a loving, kind, reliable, indulgent grandparent type nanny when my son was young, I would have been so so happy! Honestly I think you are lucky she didn’t walk out after the passionate “you’re doing the puzzles wrong” tirade!

      • Seriously. I was a nanny before I got my degree. If an employer told me I was “doing puzzles wrong” I wouldn’t have come back the next day. If an employer had told me to sort clothes i wouldn’t even know where to begin.

        • Anonymous :

          agreed! OP, you could try paying the nanny more, since you want additional services, like housework/organizing and cognitive development exercises with your child. Or you could hire a housekeeper for the housekeeping work, and have a retired preschool teacher come over for a few hours during the day to “teach” your child how to do puzzles. If the price is right, I am sure you could find a potty training consultant for that as well.

    • Organizing clothes and sorting outgrown items? Lol, I don’t even do that for myself. (And, bless us, basically all the women who comment here struggle with their closets ;)). But come on- there is a difference between a nanny and a maid. While nannies may do some light tidying they are primarily there to provide child care, not keep house, or better yet, organize things to your fastidious taste.

      Honestly you sound like a nightmare and I’m surprised that you think it’s okay to place the burden of “potty training goals” on her shoulders. I assume when you hired this person to advance your child’s developmental agendas you hired someone with an advanced degree in early childhood education, right? Oh, you didn’t? You essentially expect her to be an educator, caretaker, and home organizer all in one. Your expectations are not reasonable. Your nanny is probably getting the impression from your “passionate response” that no matter what she does, you won’t be satisfied, and/or that you think she’s a moron. Which you clearly do. You two are not a good fit for each other, or at the very least, need to communicate about your expectations.

    • Anonymous :

      Sorry but I don’t see how it is the nanny’s job to sort thru clothing and pick out the outgrown ones or to rotate the toys so the kid is playing with different toys. That is mom/dad’s job — to make the right clothing and toys available and to use their judgment to decide what is right for their kid; once those things are available – it is then the nanny’s job to dress her in those clothes/play with those toys — which it doesn’t sound like she’s refusing. It’s not like you’re making new toys available and the nanny is the one choosing to play with the same 2 toys.

    • Regarding the toys, could you put out different toys each day since the nanny isn’t (or maybe setting them out the night before)?

    • Anonymous :

      “At one point she casually responded that “babies will be babies, they’ll learn things in their own time” and I gave her a very long and passionate response that we need to expose them to the right things in order for them to learn on their own time. I see my daughter playing with the same limited set of toys all the time.”

      If you’re that invested in having your childcare provider provide these kinds of experiences exactly the way you would do it, you need to quit your job and stay home with your kid. No one is going to do things with your child exactly the way you would do them, and expecting that is unreasonable and inappropriate. I feel bad for your nanny.

      • Anonymous :

        I truly believe that babies are babies and they WILL learn things in their own time. If I were you, I’d sign my daughter up for a preschool class two or three mornings a week, and keep your nanny. You can ask her to tidy around the house while the baby is at preschool. You are really lucky to have a sweet, loving, reliable, tender nanny who cares for your children. Your kids will feel beloved and safe and adjusted with them. That is way, way more important than putting phonics or letters in front of them.

        Signed, someone who had to fire multiple nannies for not showing up

        • To add, I stayed at home with 2 of my 3. They did not receive a high quality pre-preschool education. In fact, they watched more TV, ate more junk, and had a crankier mom than my kid that had a nanny since birth ;)

          OP, in my area, kids tend to “age out” of the nanny around 2/2.5 for many of the reasons you’re describing. Families tend to move to part time nannies OR if they find someone that is willing, a more housekeeper + childcare role. It’s rare to find a 3 year old that has a nanny but *isn’t* in preschool/nursery school.

          FWIW, you may be paying top dollar. In my area (Boston burbs), we pay $30/hr and pray they show up.

      • Fwiw, my (pretty expensive and well-regarded) preschool takes a “babies will be babies, let’s just let them play” attitude too. There isn’t a lot of emphasis on teaching kids anything specific, certainly not before age 3. I’m not sure you’re going to find what you’re looking for in a preschool either and I second the comment that the only way you can control your child’s “education” the way you seem to want is by staying home.

    • Your nanny’s job is to show up and watch your kids, keep them safe, fed, and changed/clean.

      Everything else is lagniappe.

      I think your expectations are wildly unreasonable, unless you laid out and agreed to these expectations from the beginning AND are paying this person top dollar (meaning a salary commensurate with being a housekeeper, nanny, and teacher) plus full benefits.

      I think whatever you’re asking her to do could be a wonderful parenting / teachable opportunity for you and child(ren) to share… i.e. “let’s find all the old clothes you don’t wear anymore and find a new home for them! Can you find something red? blue?” or perhaps you can show her the “right” (???) way to do puzzles so then she can show nanny.

      • been there done that :

        Your nanny’s job is to show up and watch your kids, keep them safe, fed, and changed/clean.

        Seriously??? Do all of you have such low expectations of your nannies? I’m insulted on behalf of nannies everywhere if this is the standard you set for your nanny. Nannies are capable of offering lots of stimulation for young children and the OP is not unreasonable for expecting that. I’m truly surprised by these comments.

        • Anonymous :

          I agree with you that a nanny should do more than show up and keep the kid safe, fed and clean. That’s a bare minimum, not a goal for a nanny.
          That said, OP’s expectations sound way too high to me. A nanny should not be in charge of potty training or figuring out how the child can best develop cognitively. That’s a parents’/school’s job and the nanny should just be complying with the parents’ requests in that area. If OP has asked the nanny to do something specific like take the kid to the library for story hour on Tuesdays and the nanny is not doing it, that’s one thing. But OP sounds like she is expecting nanny to be an expert in this stuff and develop an educational plan for the kid and that’s just not reasonable.

    • I’m not sure what kind of genius preschool you think you’re going to send your daughter too, but I have news for you…most preschools have kids play with the “same limited set of toys” every day. I’m not sure what kind of cognitive development you think a 2 year old needs but there’s lots of scientific research out there (plus obviously tons of anecdotal experience) that babies and toddlers learn through play and simply exploring the world around them. Something as simple as playing with pots and pans can do a huge amount for a 2 year old’s intellectual development, she doesn’t need all Baby Einstein all the time. Unless your kid is sitting in front of a screen for several hours a day, I think you are hugely overreacting.

      I agree with comments above that just because your child plays on her own now doesn’t mean nanny should pick up extra housework unless that was explicitly agreed to in the contract. It sounds like you want a wife. A nanny is someone to care for your children. Unless you’ve explicitly agreed otherwise, they don’t have to do housework while the child naps or plays solo.

      The nanny should not be taking the lead on potty training. If you’re making progress with your daughter on weekends that your nanny is undoing, that’s one thing, but simply giving the nanny a goal of getting your daughter potty-trained by the end of the year is crazy.

      • “It sounds like you want a wife.” +1,000

        It sounds like the OP wants to split herself in half. These are all things she would be doing if she were at home. She wants to hire a stay-at-home mom.

        My advice would be to take your house out of the equation and imagine if you were dropping the kids at Nanny’s house. Would you think the care is great? Would your kids love her? If the answer is no (or “For $30 per hour I expect more than babysitting!”) than it’s time to look into another child care provider.

        If you go with another home-based nanny, then hire a separate cleaner to come in and take care of the house. Don’t blur the jobs.

    • I’m really surprised at all of the pile on you’re getting and feel compelled to respond.

      – I think it’s very reasonable to expect that a nanny is doing things with your child to stimulate her development like reading books, taking her to the park, showing her the proper way to do a puzzle. You don’t need a degree in early childhood education to know how to do that stuff. I would also be very frustrated if I asked her to do legos or magna tiles and she never did any of that. Of course being loving and kind is paramount, but I don’t think you’re setting your expectations too high to expect more. My friend’s nanny would do scientific experiments with her toddler, arts and crafts, etc. Lots of really neat stuff.

      – On the cleaning, I definitely feel your frustration but this was something that should have been outlined and discussed during the interview process. If you never talked about her doing cleaning, I’m not sure you can fairly raise it now. When we interviewed nannies we found a HUGE disparity on this issue — while a minority of women were open to some housework, the vast majority were not (even when the kids were napping, which i found ridiculous). I know friends who have nannies that leave their homes in mint condition at the end of the day, so this is not all that unusual.

      Ultimately, we ended up just going the daycare/preschool route and hiring a more frequent housekeeper and I’m so glad that we did that and not a nanny. Your child would probably thrive in a part time or full time preschool (and you will also get a lot of comfort from the fact that she is in a more structured environment). In fact, I would seriously think of putting her in a preschool come January (not waiting until she is 3.5). I was amazed at the kind of things my son learned at a Montessori school when he was 2. This is purely my own bias, but often when I see young children with their nannies around town, the nannies are often just chatting with one another and/or look sort of checked out. There are some exceptions of course, but for the kind of development you are looking for, a preschool would be a much safer and better bet.

      • I dunno, I feel like the idea that a nanny should be ok with doing housework when the child is napping is a bit cray. Like if you’re an accountant and a client doesn’t show up for a meeting so you have a half hour free should you empty all the garbages in the office to fill the time? No, because its not your job. If you didn’t hire her for housekeeping I don’t think you can expect her to do that now.. and if you want her to I think it warrants a specific discussion and likely a pay bump. And she might refuse.

        • Sorry I didn’t mean to post this as a response here- I agree with huh on it being a specific discussion!

    • I get where you’re coming from because I’m also the mom that obsessively organizes and reorganizes my kid’s clothes by size, and researches what toys will stimulate his developmental leaps, and secretly wants him to hit his milestones early. But there’s a reason I work in a Type A job and not as a nanny. Neurotic people like me who care too much about organizing baby clothes and doing kid puzzles correctly probably do not make the best nannies. Your kid is lucky to have a soft, loving place to land. Love and feeling secure are so important to kids’ development too and those are undefinable qualities that are really hard to hire for – be glad that you’ve already found that!

  15. IVF costs :

    Can someone break down the cost of IVF for me? Our RE gave us the general $10-15k total, but it would be helpful to know what to expect when since everything is out of pocket. I’m in a medium size Midwestern city, if that helps. And we’ll be doing chromosomal testing after egg retrieval so will do a frozen embryo transfer about 6-ish weeks after retrieval. I’m just looking for general categories of costs, for example, stim meds = $x, egg retrieval = $x, chromosomal testing = $x, etc. Thanks.

    • Anonymous :

      Your RE/fertility clinic should have a billing coordinator to give you all the details.

      I’m looking at:
      Meds- 6k
      Retrieval- 3k
      Facility fee for retrieval- 1k
      Anesthesiologist- 1k
      Doctor’s appointments- 1k

      Just for egg retrieval.

    • So much depends on insurance. For us, things that were not covered at all: embryo biopsying = $1200 (each round), PGS testing = about $1500 for up to 8 (could be over multiple rounds), embryo storage = $500. Agree with above re: ballpark retrieval, anesthesia, hospital fee.
      Good luck!! It seems overwhelming but you can do it!

    • Meds are the most expensive part. Research the different discount plans through the drug manufacturers and compare pharmacy prices. Some pharmacies will let you return unused meds. Your insurance may also cover some of the costs. I was surprised that AETNA paid 50%. Also ask your clinic whether they offer a discount for out of pocket patients. Good luck.

    • Absolutely shop around for that. Prices can definitely vary by provider.

      I would suggest you join a fertility facebook group on ivf issues and pose that question there in reference to the geographic area. You will get good feedback.

      Also, there is one a really cheap but reputable group of providers that do much more affordable ivfs in NY (locations in the city as well as the rest of the state.)

      I know people that actually found it cheaper to take a really affordable direct flight/drive to nyc to access this provider for at least part of their service.

      Other people have also gone oversees for portions.

      There’s lots of options based on your own set of needs and geographic location.

  16. Do you think it is strange if someone doesnt have a LinkedIn profile? Legal field, if it matters.

    • A little, but I think it’s worse to have a profile with almost no contacts so if you don’t have one I wouldn’t make one at the start of a job search.

  17. Probably too late but I use a person system. At some point, we bought sets of three bags (S, M, L) in multiple colors. L contains the main set of daytime clothes. M contains nighttime stuff (usually PJs, blanket, stuffed animal). S contains socks and underwear.

  18. I have 2 sets for 2 kids, each a different color. The larger bag has their day clothes. I roll each outfit together—so pants and shirt are rolled together to form a larger roll. That way I’ve put together the outfit already and there’s no guessing on anyone’s part. If pjs can fit, then I’ll put it in the large one too (rolled up). The smaller one contains underwear and socks and other smaller items. The little one still wears a pull-up at night, so I’ll include those too here.

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