2020 Babysitting Rates & Childcare Costs Study

Wondering how much to pay your babysitter in 2020? According to UrbanSitter and their 9th annual child care study of more than 25,000 families across the U.S., the average hourly babysitting rate is $17.73 for one child and $20.30 for two children. Read on for the average babysitting rates in your city, plus more fun facts. 2020-Rates-Infographic

An Interview with CEO and Founder of Emi

EMI Urbansitter

EMI Urbansitter

Aya Takeuchi is the CEO and Founder of Emi, a technology company on a mission to help people maintain happy and meaningful relationships in a busy world. 

1. Parents often use Valentine’s Day as a date night to reconnect, what are your tips for making the most of connection time?

The most obvious one is to be grateful for the time together and to be present for each other. Some people get bogged down on the “where” and “what” of Valentines Day and get stressed out wanting it to be different and special. Tell yourself that it’s ok if it’s a place you’ve been to before, or if it’s just grabbing ice cream, or a movie, or even staying home. After all, you have kids and are tired parents! The important thing is that you’ve made a conscious effort to plan and do something together. 

2. Do you have suggestions for parents who are looking to make one-on-one time more frequent and often find they just can’t make it happen?

I think the key is scheduling it in your calendar, so both of you can see it, and make a pact that it’s something you don’t reschedule. Once you start rescheduling it’s a slippery slope! My partner and I have a weekly date night every Thursday and a recurring babysitter scheduled, so it’s more of a pain to cancel or reschedule her. 

Of course, there are many parents who can’t make weekly date nights happen for various reasons. Keep in mind that it doesn’t have to be something expensive or as time-consuming as date night. You can build in small one-on-one time during the day in your daily routines. This can be: waking up 15 minutes early to sit and eat breakfast together, clearing the dishes together, playing a board game after the kids go to bed, reading out loud together before going to bed. With young kids it’s difficult to carve out a huge chunk of time, but take some time to think about what you already do daily and see if you can find a way to do it together, or use an app like Emi to remind you to build simple, daily positive routines. However you’re able to make time for each other, it’s ok to put it on your calendar to hold each other and yourself accountable! 

3. What is one habit that you see healthy/happy couples embracing?

Creating their own rituals. This doesn’t have to be cheesy, or time consuming, or something you make a big deal out of – just be conscious about what this ritual is for you and when you’re doing it. You can make it a part of something you already do, so it’s easier to make it a routine and stick. 

Some examples crowdsourced from our Emi community include:

  • I say I love you before going to sleep every night 
  • I make my wife a cappuccino every morning that I am able to
  • We keep a notebook in our bathroom and take turns writing each other little love notes
  • Once, a text saying “muah” autocorrected to “mush” and it stuck. Now we send a quick “mush” to each other to say hello, I love you 

It’s easier said than done, but small, shared, touchpoints such as these throughout the day can make you feel a lot more connected. If you like any of these, make it your own – if not, give some thought to what might work for you and your partner. You can also find more community tips like these when using the  Emi app.

4. Tell us a bit about Emi and what inspired you to start it.

The idea for Emi was born out of life experience; my husband and I were struggling to juggle demanding careers while raising three young children. Nurturing our relationship took second place to the daily hustle, and we could not find an easy solution to find mental and emotional space for each other. Despite there being many apps focused on mindfulness for self, I realized there was no simple solution to bring mindful practices to family life, even though studies have proven that intimate relationships are the single biggest predictor of longevity and health. After consulting many friends, self-help books, and marriage therapists, I realized that I was not alone in my search, and made it my mission to deliver those learnings to every home and make the concept of modern tech-enabled relationship enrichment mainstream. 


Aya Takeuchi is the CEO and Founder of Emi, a technology company on a mission to help people maintain happy and meaningful relationships in a busy world. Emi, which means smile in Japanese, is building products based on the latest psychological research that’s uncovered how intimate relationships are critical to every person’s health, happiness, and wellbeing. Before founding Emi, Aya held leadership roles at various tech giants and startups including Amazon, Walmart.com, Mixi and Trusper. In her personal life, Aya stays fit by chasing after her 3 young children, which includes a set of toddler twins. 

To learn more about Emi and sign up for free (you can sign up alone or with a partner), visit: https://emicouple.com

How Much Does Babysitting Cost in 2019



As you prepare to hire a babysitter, the important question of pricing may be looming in the back of your mind. While this is not a service that you want to cut corners on or skimp on, you also do not want to pay more than you need to for quality childcare services. As you decide how much money to offer your babysitter, keep these important factors in mind.

Factors Influencing Babysitting Rates

Babysitting rates vary dramatically based on several factors. These include the experience of the babysitter and his or her credentials. Consider that a professional nanny with a lengthy list of references may understandably charge more than a teenage babysitter who picks up odd jobs on the weekends. Your location will also play a role in the rate for childcare services. The minimum wage in your area should serve as a starting point when setting a threshold. The demand for babysitters, your need for special services, the number of children who will be cared for, the children’s ages and many other factors all must be taken into consideration.

The Difference Between Full-Time and Part-Time Care

There is a difference in the process of hiring a full-time vs. part-time babysitter. Full-time typically means being salaried with paid time off, holidays, etc, written in a contract, while part-time is normally paid out hourly but with set days/times. So be sure you know the minimum wage laws, but also do your research to know what the average rates in your area are for full-time nannies. If you are looking for one-time or part-time care, a slightly lower hourly rate may be reasonable.
The National Average for 2019

The National Average for 2019

The average hourly rate for one child is $16.75 in the U.S. for 2019. The national average for two children is $19.26 per hour. Additional children will raise the average rate further. Before you decide how much to pay for childcare services, consider asking your friends and neighbors how much they pay for their preferred babysitter. By polling several parents and making adjustments for the various relevant factors, you can better determine how much you should pay for the services that you need.

Many babysitters and nannies have a minimum rate that they are willing to work for. While you should research local rates, you also should ask the individuals whom you are interested in hiring what they charge. Through your research, you can determine if their requested rate is reasonable for your needs and for the area.

Meet Stacy and Bailey Katz, Westwood, Los Angeles

They say it takes a village to raise a child. When Stacy Katz became a mom in 2007, she created her own. A single parent of Bailey, now age 8, she left San Francisco, where she’d been working in public relations since the mid ‘90s, and bought a duplex in Los Angeles’s Westwood neighborhood, not far from where she grew up. Then she talked Bailey’s grandparents into moving into the other half of the duplex.

“It’s amazing, like something you’d see in Italy or Spain,” says Katz of her Mediterranean style side-by-side duplex home, where an interior courtyard connects her and Bailey to his grandparents. “He runs back and forth all day, often eating breakfast and dinner with them.” It’s a little bit like how things used to be when her own grandparents moved to the States from Lithuania, and the extended family lived on the same street and even shared houses. “Everyone chipped in and everyone benefited,” says Katz.  “We have a little bit of that here.”

Katz now owns her own public relations and digital marketing agency, Stacy Katz Communications, specializing in digital entertainment, immersive media, and consumer technology clients. After she walks Bailey to school, she often heads back home to work, or meets up with a client—or sometimes even squeezes in a workout. When we caught up with her, her head was freshly cleared from a morning spin class. She talked to us about how she’s creating a balanced life, and shares a few secrets to how she makes it all work.

Other than your parents being (very) nearby, is Westwood a family-friendly neighborhood choice?
Stacy Katz: Very! UCLA, my alma mater, is in Westwood, so there’s an eclectic mix of students and faculty from all over the world. It’s smack in the middle of Los Angeles, which means easy access to both downtown LA—where’s there’s a big resurgence happening—and the beach.

Do you spend much time at UCLA?
Stacy: There’s a lot to do there. Bailey loves to stop for donuts at old-school favorite, Stan’s Donuts, in the heart of Westwood Village, on the way to the Fowler, a cool museum on campus with tons of free or inexpensive kids’ activities on the weekends; or to a basketball game at Pauley Pavilion. There’s a great little secret garden on campus, too. You can easily make a day of it.

Eight is such a great age—still full of wonder, yet old enough to hang out a little later. What else do you like to do together? 
Stacy: I love this age. I grew up going seeing shows at the Pantages Theater in Hollywood, and Bailey’s nearly old enough to make it through a show without me having to feed him Starbursts to keep him quiet! We have a pretty good weekend routine, starting Saturday morning with a martial arts class at Little Beast Gym, or sometimes he’ll take a class at Rolling Robots, where he’s learning how to code in a really fun way. We also love a day at the beach—Helen’s Bike Rental staff is awesome at making sure our bikes are in working order for the bike path. We’ll stop for lunch at Back on the Beach and play at the Annenberg Beach House.

We’re also fans of going to the movies—not the big fancy multiplexes, but the traditional, local Westwood theaters, like the Regent or the Fox, that have been around forever and are famous in L.A. for hosting movie premieres because they look like old school Hollywood. Sadly, they are losing customers to the fancy book-your-seats theatres so we’re committed to giving our business to them.  If it’s a movie night in Westwood, or a matinee, we like to grab a meal at TLT, which used to be a food truck and has made its home as a restaurant right in the heart of Westwood.

With so much to do around town, do you ever stay home? 
Stacy: We love to stay home and play badminton in our backyard—it’s our thing. We’re really big Harry Potter and Percy Jackson fans, so we often read or stream a video on M-GO, which has all the newest releases. We’ll invite friends over, bring in food from Garlo’s Aussie Pie Shop or Panini Cafe, and have dinner on the patio.

Stacy and Bailey with his grandfather, Ronald Katz, in their shared courtyard

Having family around to help must be incredible. Are Bailey’s grandparents his built-in nannies?
Stacy: No! My parents both work full-time as lawyers. I’ve found an incredible male kid sitter who stays with Bailey after school while I work. Bailey adores doing macho things with him, like go-carting, playing dodge ball, or learning to play tennis.

How about when you need a little solo or adult time? What do you like to do?
Stacy: When Bailey is at a play date or with his grandparents, I get a bit of time to myself. I usually head to yoga or Pilates, or to a 30-minute meditation class at Unplug Meditation, to unwind. For a special treat, I’ll get a facial or massage from Nerida Joy at the Bel Air Hotel near Westwood. If I get a night out, I love to go salsa dancing with girlfriends, out to dinner at Taninos for great Italian or to Fridas Mexican Restaurant—where Bailey loves to go, too.

Do you think you do things differently as a single parent than you would if you lived with a partner?
Stacy: There’s no dad in our house, but I remind my child that there are all kinds of families, and we get to live with his grandparents. I try to create experiences and expose Bailey to different kinds of people doing cool things that I might not be so inclined to do myself. We rented a two-person kayak, which was a lot of work—and I ended up in the water, which he loved! I took him to a Tough Mudder race, where people train and show a lot of character and grit to get through it. It had a “Mini-Mudder course,” which he did and loved testing his physical abilities on the obstacle course like the fit adults. It would be awesome to say I did it with him, but…

Last year we learned to ride bikes together. I’ve had a phobia of bikes ever since I fell head first into prickly bushes full of spiders when I was a kid. I learned that sometimes the best way to teach your child how to do something is to realize you’re not the one to teach them. It’s important to be able ask people for help or bring in a coach or expert if you are able to once in a while.

It can’t be easy running your own business, being a mom and finding time for yourself. How do you do it?
Stacy: I aspire to go beyond just being a professional and a mother, but I don’t always succeed. My secret is personal training with Natalia. She has a sweet energy that pushes me when I have it in me, and does a great Thai massage or stretching when I’m exhausted. I don’t even have to tell her what I need.

My other key to keeping it together is the two hours of private time I give myself every morning. I wake up at 5:00 am, make my favorite Bullet Proof Coffee and a smoothie and usually read, meditate, or listen to a TED talk. I realized that I’m not very productive during the time after Bailey goes to bed at night, so I go to bed early and get up early. It helps me be present when Bailey wakes up, rather than trying to play catch up, because at 7:00 am, it’s on!

Photographs by Kyle Monk

5 Unforgettable & Affordable Family Vacations You Can Take This Summer

Planning the perfect summer family vacation can seem like a daunting—and expensive—endeavor. That’s why we’ve put together this list of five of our favorite fun and affordable destinations for family travel. Bon voyage!

1. Austin, Texas.

via Free Fun in Austin
via Free Fun in Austin

Austin averages around 230 sunny days per year, making it the perfect place for families that want to enjoy the great outdoors! Visit one of the city’s best museums and take a trip to the state capital for an inspiring and educational getaway.

2. Portland, Oregon.

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Portland is a foodie family’s dream come true! Try out dessert hotspots like Voodoo Doughnuts and Salt & Straw, plus get your hands on some of the Pacific Northwest’s very best seafood. Let the kiddos run around by taking in some of Portland’s scenic gardens and outdoor spaces!

3. Washington, DC.

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While your hotel bill might not be the cheapest in DC, you can more than make up for that cost by visiting some of the dozens of free museums and exhibits across the city. And no matter what your little one is interested in—from space to American history to dinosaurs—you’ll find something they’ll love.

4. Santa Cruz, California.

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Between the beautiful beaches, the Boardwalk (which offers free admission!), and the Mystery Spot, your family will find plenty of fun and inexpensive things to do in Santa Cruz. Plus, it’s just a scenic hour and a half drive from the Bay Area!

5. Your own backyard!

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Planning a family staycation is actually the perfect way to get to know your own city, plus it’s extra-budget-friendly because you cut out travel and accommodation costs. Pretend like you’re out-of-towners and visit all the local tourist spots, try a new restaurant or two, and get to know your city better than ever!

Hire fantastic local babysitters and nannies all over the country (even when you’re traveling!) with UrbanSitter.

2017 Babysitting Rates: How much should you pay your babysitter?

We surveyed over 20,000 families from all across the country to get the scoop on what parents are willing to pay forand what they’re willing to pay extra forwhen it comes to childcare in 2017!

  • San Francisco came in as the most expensive city for babysitters once again in 2017, with $17.34/hour for one child as the average rate. While Denver has the least expensive babysitters in the nation, at $12.22/hour for one child, on average.
  • 48% of parents said they spend over $1,000 a year on childcare.
  • Over 90% of parents say they require references, either some or all of the time, when hiring a new sitter.
  • Almost 1/3 of parents hire a sitter at least once a week. While only 5% say they hire a sitter once a year or less.




Meet Amy Rodriguez, Adam Shilling, & Ryan, Orange County, California

Adam, Amy, & Ryan, enjoying some rare family time.

By Lela Nargi

With the Women’s World Cup of soccer kicking off in Canada this coming June, two-time Olympic gold medalist and FC Kansas City forward Amy Rodriguez has been spending the winter getting in shape, in the hopes she’ll make it on to the final roster. That’s meant grueling weeks away at training camp with the rest of the potential team. She alternates these with time at home with husband Adam Shilling—a former All-American water polo player for the University of Southern California and now an athlete-focused physical therapist—and their 2-year-old son Ryan, under balmy skies at their home just east of Laguna Beach.

“Adam is trying to get Ryan to be a swimmer—with my full support!”




“When I was pregnant, we wanted to find a community with a lot of kids,” says Rodriguez of her and Shilling’s choice to settle in mountain-rimmed, ocean-close Ladera Ranch. “My best friends in my wedding were the friends I met when I lived at home in Lake Forest. I wanted that for my son: a happy childhood! And there’s a good vibe here for raising a family.” The town’s proximity to Rodriguez’s parent’s house, Shilling’s PT office in Rancho Santa Margarita, and all the amenities of the OC—from beaches and parks to play spaces and yes, Disney—make this the perfect base in the hectic life of a professional-athlete family.

What’s a normal day like for you?
Amy Rodriguez: It is chaos! Even when I’m not at training camp, Adam is working 11-hour days, so it can be hard for me to find time to do my job, which is to work out. Right now, I’m doing two, sometimes three team workouts a day. We get these sent to us and follow the regimen, mostly of weightlifting and running. A lot of times, I drive to my parents’ house in Lake Forest, drop Ryan off, work out, then pick him up in time for him to have lunch and a nap back at home. I’m always stressing about the clock for what I have to do, but I try to keep him on a pretty consistent schedule.

Adam Shilling: I drive to my PT office, where I see many athletes: high schoolers from Santa Margarita High School, college students from USC and UCLA, professional baseball and football players. I usually have Thursdays off, though, which I spend at home.

Ryan and mom kick the soccer ball around.

What does each of you do for fun with Ryan?
Amy: Having a boy is mostly about getting active and outside, so he can burn off a lot of energy. Mission Viejo has an awesome lake I pull Ryan around in the bike trailer. The city of Lake Forest just built a new sports park with a tot lot. I’m trying to teach Ryan to kick the soccer ball. He does quite well! If the weather is bad, we’ll go to the Big Air Trampoline Park in Laguna Hills. We also have a membership to the Gymboree Play and Music Center in San Juan Capistrano and Ryan loves to crawl and climb on everything there. He used to have a biting and hitting problem and it’s been great for him to learn to socialize with other children.

Adam: I like to take him to the parks, and jogging in his stroller, or take him to the pool in our community.

Amy: They’re a cute pair! Last summer, Adam took Ryan swimming at the pool every day. One day they came back and Adam had taught Ryan to do a back flip in the water. He’s trying to get him to be a swimmer—with my full support!

Adam: I want him to be as comfortable in the water as possible, if for no other reason than safety. If he happens to decide he likes water polo one day—that’s great!

Swinging by the lake.

What do you do on those rare days the three of you get to be together as a family?
Amy: We just got over an issue with eating sand so we’re taking Ryan to the beach more—we’re really blessed with great weather here. Aliso Creek Beach is a fun one to go to; we’ve had a few barbecues there. And Strands Beach is great for biking, since it has a paved pathway along the beach. We don’t really eat out much, because I’m in training, so we tend to cook a lot. Although I think Ryan has to learn how to dine out at some point, and experience that world outside our home. But we do have Disneyland passes—Ryan is learning the names of all the characters, and he can run there, and get all that energy out.

Adam: In the afternoon, we hang out with neighbors.

Amy: We have a street full of kids. Our neighbors had a baby boy exactly one month after us, so our boys have become great friends.

What about grown-up time?
Amy: My schedule is so tough during a World Cup year—training camp for three weeks, then maybe 10 days at home, then back to camp for another three weeks. And this is a very crucial time for a player like myself; I haven’t solidified my World Cup spot. Luckily for me, Adam is in PT. Probably the last thing he wants to do when he comes home is more of that. But I’ll say, “Can you rub my calf? I’m in pain.” And he will, he’s great!

Photographs by Kyle Monk

Last Minute Family Day Trips For the Dog Days of Summer

By Ilene Miller

My two boys, age 10 and 13, love to spend summer “chillaxing” and getting away from the grind of the school year. But typically, by the end of July, we are all burned out on the pool and looking for some family fun in the sun that doesn’t involve a three hour car ride to the beach or the lakes.

Luckily for us, metro DC has an abundance of activities that make for great family day trips. But no matter what age your kids are—and no matter what city you live in—zoos and other places that house animals are a surefire hit. If you live in DC, check out the Leesburg Animal Park in Northern Virginia. My son Max has taken selfies with a goat, a chicken, and a donkey and hopes to cover all farm animals by summer’s end.

The Catoctin Wildlife Preserve & Zoo in Thurmont, MD offers unique animal encounters where you can touch an exotic animal and learn all about it through their terrific education program. To make a day of it, we like to visit the Cunningham Falls for a short hike and picnic. And of course, in the middle of the nation’s capital we have the star gem of the Smithsonian in the National Zoo. Admission is free and you can literally spend an entire day exploring all of the exhibits!  Once you’re tuckered out, be sure to stop by Baked by Yael’s Cake Pops, a newly-opened, woman-founded cake poppery right across the street and tell her Urban Family and Activity Rocket sent you!

New Yorkers can make the drive (or take a scenic Hudson River train ride) to the Stone Barns Center in Pocantico Hills. A center for food and agriculture that’s built on part of the old Rockefeller estate, its 80 rolling acres of wood- and farmland are idyllic for families, even if you’ve got your dog in tow (Fido must be kept leashed at all times, though). You can sign up to collect eggs from the farm’s chickens, visit the pigs, the sheep, and the greenhouse, or just stroll around and take in a breath of fresh air. For lunch, sandwiches, salads and baked good made with the products from the farm are available in the Blue Hill Café. Or, if you feel like getting fancy, make a dinner reservation at Chef Dan Barber’s award-winning Blue Hill restaurant (you’ll also have to tote some snazzy duds—no shorts allowed in the dining room!).

In Chicago’s Brookfield suburb, the Chicago Zoological Park has been a Mecca for families for over 80 years. Built on 216 acres, and housing about 450 species of animals, this is an easy place to wile away the day. If you live in the LA area, the Santa Barbara Zoo is just 90 miles north of the city and is considered one of the most beautiful zoos in the world. Where else can you see more than 500 animals while overlooking the Pacific Ocean, Andree Clark Bird Refuge, and Santa Ynez Mountains? It’s right by the beach so it’s typically chilly—a bonus on a hot summer day. Not to miss: feeding the giraffes and riding the train, which goes all around the zoo.

When it’s downright boiling outside, we head for some water-bound relief. Harper’s Ferry is another short drive from downtown DC, and a great place to go whitewater rafting or tubing. Last summer, we had a blast leisurely tubing down the river and exploring the riverbeds, and the kids got a huge kick out of the floating cooler and waterproof camera.  In the District, at Key Bridge Boathouse, you can rent paddleboards, kayaks, and canoes. Afterwards, it’s fun to walk around Georgetown or people watch on the waterfront. We also love to rent sailboats at the Washington Sailing Marina and classes are available for kids, adults, and even families.

Across the country, on the San Diego Coast, San Elijo State Beach provides all the thrills of camping and a day at the beach, rolled into one easy-to-reach location. By day, families can build sand castles and play in the reef-protected waters. When the sun goes down, build a bonfire, roast marshmallows, and teach your kids some camp songs. If you need a break from nature, Wan Pizza has delicious pizzas and the waiters bring kids dough instead of crayons to play with while you wait for your food. If you’re looking for watery adventure from Los Angeles, try a kayaking daytrip with LA River Kayak Safari, led by local guides and featuring wildlife galore.

Both San Franciscans and Angelenos can take a family road trip on Highway 1 between Los Angeles and San Francisco to piddle around the tidal pools at Montaña de Oro State Park, and watch the gray whales migrate north from lookouts along the steep cliffs of Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park.

This summer, my family adventure bucket list includes Trapeze School New York in Washington and the zip line at the Adventure Park at Sandy Spring. I have done both with my girlfriends but have not experienced them with my sons and husband yet. I can’t wait to settle once and for all who is our family’s biggest daredevil! Adventure parks are hot right now and you’ll have no trouble locating one within striking distance of your own city.

My kids would shoot me if I didn’t mention amusement parks. We try to end every summer with a trip to one that’s nearby. We are a huge rollercoaster family and dare each other to sit in the front seat, not hold on, keep our eyes open.  It’s a great way to celebrate the end of summer and for us, it’s a short drive to Kings DominionHershey ParkDutch Wonderland, and Idlewild from the metro DC area.

New Yorkers with little kids in tow will find rides for tots at the world-famous Luna Park at Brooklyn’s Coney Island; and north of the city, in Westchester, historic Rye Playland on the Long Island Sound has something for all ages—including Kiddyland, with rides galore for the just-walking set. Knott’s Berry Farm is a great destination for families in SoCal looking for an alternative to Disney.

So, rather than sit at home in the air conditioning as the summer starts to feel like it’s overstayed its welcome, hop in the car and drive off to a little adventure!

Ilene Miller is co-founder of Activity Rocket in metro DC. 

Profiles of Childhood: Kia Gomez, Doula & Babysitter

Kia Gomez and one of her favorite babysitting charges, Olina, 18 months old

Our childhoods shape us and prepare us, not only for our own lives, but for the joys and values we’ll pass on to others. 

As told to Dawn Van Osdell

“I split my time between school in the San Francisco Bay Area—Notre Dame de Namur University—and my hometown of Los Angeles. It’s not so different from the way I divided my time when I was a kid: between LA, where I was raised, and Belize, where my dad and extended family live and where I spent whole summers and every Christmas. The closeness of my family, and growing up in two places, made me who I am today, and who I am to the kids I take care of. My childhood prepared me to deal with different kinds of people and to realize I shouldn’t have any expectations of how people should be, act, or live.

My mom, brother, and I moved to LA from Belize when my parents divorced. I was 7 years old. I had several cousins in LA to help ease my transition, but it took me a while to catch on and keep up with the other kids. I remember how Americans phrased things so differently than people did in Belize, how the lingo was so completely new. I was fortunate to have a strong family and community of other Belizean transplants who knew the culture of my small country and helped me adjust to living in such a big, new place. Nonetheless, the change was difficult for me and also for other kids to understand. They didn’t get what it was like to be a part of a separated household spread across two countries. I couldn’t invite them over—we were living in a one-bedroom apartment. I didn’t have the luxury of getting picked up and dropped off in a car—I took a city bus. My clothes didn’t have brand names. I realized you have to ask questions to understand how another person lives. I also learned to not just accept differences, but to expect them.

Today, I babysit for dozens of different families. I don’t have expectations before walking in the door. Sometimes the kids are really shy and other times they are balls of fire—similar to the night and day difference between my brother and me when we were growing up. My parents always struggled to understand why I wasn’t more extroverted like him. I’ve vowed to respect and appreciate people’s differences because it makes us who we are. I have a built-in support system for interacting with kids, no matter their personality: my mom, a single mother and a nanny since she was 18 years old. I call her and say, “Help! What do I do? What works for you?” She always reminds to me try to understand the other side, to have patience, and to be confident.

Olina and her three-year-old brother, Samson, hang out in Los Angeles with their sitter, Kia

I’m studying kinesiology, which is the study of human movement. I may be an athletic trainer one day, maybe something else! I’m interning with a chiropractor in LA County, and starting to work with a mom I babysit for who is a yoga teacher for athletes. I’ve also become a doula—inspired by my aunt who is a nurse practitioner— which has given me so much information about what women need during childbirth and what needs to change. There is often a lack of concern over providing a mother and her child with a happy and healthy birth, and fallback from doctors who just want to get the job done. Becoming a doula has introduced me to feminist views, like how women are underestimated just for being female, and the inequalities that still exist between men and women. It’s made me want to speak up for others and for change. I’m able to help by serving as an advocate for low-income families and young mothers with unplanned pregnancies through volunteering at Joy in Birthing while finishing my degree.

Whether it’s the kids I babysit or my friends, I always encourage others to embrace what makes people difference and to try new things. Thinking about the “what-if” will only deter you from doing something that could possibly be wonderfully life changing. For me, even if I fail, I will be happy to know that I at least tried.

Photographs by Kyle Monk

Healthy Living with Dean, Anne, Lucas & Jasmine Ornish, Sausalito, California

By Dawn Van Osdell

Dean Ornish, M.D., his wife Anne, and their two children—Jasmine, age 6 and Lucas, age 15 (from Dean’s previous marriage)—live the holistic lifestyle they teach others by embodying a simple motto: “Eat well, stress less, move more, and love more.”

Dr. Ornish is passionate about helping people live healthier, happier lives by making better lifestyle choices. He’s the founder of the nonprofit Preventive Medicine Research Institute, a clinical professor of medicine at the University of California, San Francisco, and the author of six best-selling books that claim that lifestyle and diet can reverse aging and improve chronic diseases—such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes and prostate cancer—and can also change your genes by turning off disease-promoting elements. “We’re committed to creating healthcare, rather sick-care,” he explains about his pursuits. Anne, a former yoga instructor, is the digital director for Ornish Lifestyle Medicine at Healthways, Inc., focused on bringing their holistic principles to the masses by providing inspiring tips for creating a better balanced life.

The couple took time away from their work to talk with us about their daily life with Jasmine, a rising first-grader at Mark Day School in San Rafael, and Lucas, who is returning from summer camp and starting his freshman year at The Bay School of San Francisco in the Presidio, which is just over the Golden Gate Bridge from their home in the picturesque, water’s-edge town of Sausalito.

the ornish family in 2014


What makes Sausalito conducive to living the healthy lifestyle you teach?
Dean: I’ve lived in Sausalito since 1988. It allows us to embody the principles we teach others, and to implement them into our daily lives. We can walk to work, find healthy foods from local farmers’ markets, and incorporate exercise into every day. It feels good just being in Sausalito.

Anne: Sausalito has a network of stairs—our daughter calls it “the secret passageway”— that take us from home to our office, and comes out by Poggio, one of our favorite restaurants. We almost never have to get in our car. We have electrical packs on our bikes so when we leave Sausalito, we can bike all the way to Point Reyes, Fort Baker, CronkhiteCavallo Point, or to the (Bay Area) Discovery Museum. We have a special, covered doggy basket on our bikes for our Maltipoo, Cocoa, so she can come, too.

Aside from walking and biking as transportation, how else do you incorporate exercise into your busy lives?
Anne: We have two double kayaks with recumbent pedals that are like sea turtle paddles. We kayak bayside—around Sausalito and Mill Valley, or head out to Belvedere and Angel Island.

Dean: If exercise is fun and easy to incorporate into daily life, it works for me. In addition to walking to work, riding bikes with my family, and kayaking, I like to swim and play tennis. I have a treadmill desk at work so I can get some exercise while I’m checking my email. I also have a personal trainer who comes to my home gym and helps me incorporate strength training and cardio.

Building a stronger mind/body connection and reducing stress are a big part of your lifestyle philosophy. Is this something you practice daily?
Anne: For me, mind/body practice, like yoga, is essential. I was a private yoga instructor in my 20s. Now, like all working mothers, I practice whenever I can squeeze it in. On busy workdays, that usually means meditation time in the morning to get grounded and focused. On other days, I get in longer practices. I can’t always practice everyday, but if the majority of my seven days are well balanced, the whole week seems balanced.

Jasmine must have been a yoga teacher in a former life—she’s a natural, even in her mannerisms. She’s always teaching me something, especially with our dog around to show her some poses!

Where do you like to go when we venture away from home?
Anne: We like to take the ferry from Sausalito into San Francisco, especially when we have guests. Last weekend, the grandparents were visiting and we took them to the Ferry Building for the great restaurants and market, visited the Exploratorium, and the Academy of Sciences.

On the mainland, as we like to call it, we like to visit Big Sur, Napa and Sonoma, where we recently visited the beloved Train Town. Additionally, we spend a couple of weeks every year in Kauai. It’s like a healing sabbatical for us—our time to recharge and enjoy the fresh food, like the amazing local bananas and mangoes.

You have so many fantastically healthy, flavorful recipes on your site and in your books. What are some of your family favorites?
Anne: We have four or five salads that everyone loves that are in rotation right now. We tend to think in themes: Asian or kale/Brussels sprouts, for instance. But then we’ll go the farmer’s market and throw in whatever is fresh, like a perfect peach. Right now my favorites are shredded Brussels sprout salad, similar to the Kale and Brussels Sprouts recipe on our site, and a kale and mint salad we make with sugared pecans and sliced apples. Having so many great markets nearby makes it easy to get fresh, good food. We all enjoy going to the farmer’s market in San Rafael, where they have pony rides for the kids on Thursday nights. It’s like a street fair.

kale and brussels sprouts salad, an ornish family favorite.


Where do you enjoy eating out around Sausalito?
Anne: In addition to Poggio, we like Sushi Ran; Fish, which offers sustainable fish and local, organic produce; and we’ve just tried and really enjoyed a new restaurant, Barrel House—we order all the vegetables and eat them family style, with a great view.  We also really like Greens in San Francisco.

Do your kids eat what you eat? If so, what’s the trick!?
Anne: If left to her own, Jasmine would eat the food all kids like. But we’ve been exposing her to what we eat since she was very young, and working at developing her palate. If kids see what everyone else is eating, they want to be a part of it and will usually want to eat the same thing. Sometimes it’s about picking the parts that work for them.

Photos: Grapes via Maja Petric at Unsplash; Kale and Brussels Sprouts Salad via Ornish Lifestyle Medicine; Ornish family photo via the Ornishes