Nanny Knows Best

Although Mary Poppins may have saved the day with "a spoon full of sugar", Nanny V employs a more pragmatic approach. No magic, just simple love, attention and consistency. And a healthy dose of humour.

Falsehoods to get you through the day

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on Friday, 20 June 2014
Are you a bad nanny if you tell little Sammy his noisy car/dinosaur/robot that has given you a monster headache, is broken? (When he wasn’t looking you switched the batteries so it can’t work)

“Oops, it seems to have stopped. It must be tired and needs a rest. Let’s read your favourite car/dinosaur/robot book while your toy recovers and is happy again”.

Whether you call it a strategy or an outright blatant fib, it can make the difference between a little disappointment becoming a major meltdown. Well, hopefully.

One of the first lessons we teach children is to always tell the truth and yet as adults we justify these “falsehoods” to make them happy and to keep the peace. It starts with Father Christmas and the Tooth Fairy and continues through to “I have no idea where all those sweeties from your party favour disappeared to … maybe they disintegrated in a chemical reaction when exposed to the air in the cupboard/drawer”.

If you wish to avoid clocking up more dentist visits from regular sugar fixes or provide a reasonable solution to the vanishing lollies, I take the latter option. Sometimes a rational answer is not acceptable to a frenzied four-year-old doggedly demanding a lollipop, and so you make it easier for them and you.

“Nanny V, I NEED this Lego/Barbie/a new WII game”. Why is it every time you walk into a shop, a new toy must be purchased? A simple “no” or “not now” does not suffice so another untruth seems to slip out of my mouth.

“I read in the paper today that this particular model has a manufacturing defect and it’s best to wait for the next release…yes I’m disappointed too but we just have to be patient”.

One could say (tongue-in-cheek of course) a healthy nanny-child relationship has an element of dishonesty.  Integrity and ethics versus Reality (with a capital R) is the reason I sometimes choose the less problematic path and I know this window will close all too quickly once the kids are old enough to Google and catch me out.

What then? Hmmm, maybe it will be time to ask the UN to send out a professional negotiator to help me out.

Dirt is good

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on Thursday, 12 June 2014
It’s official.  The “three second rule” will not kill your child.

If you drop a dummy or a piece of food on the floor or ground, picking it up immediately, wiping it off, and giving it to your child may not be the worst kind of germs. Of course, this is within reason and good judgement that said floor or ground is not covered in cow pizzas (aka dung) or puppy pee.

The clever scientists at the John Hopkins Children’s Centre in the US found that babies with early exposure to bacteria and certain allergens may have a protective effect by shaping their immune responses – helping to inform preventive strategies for allergies and wheezing, both precursors to asthma.

"Our study shows that the timing of initial exposure may be critical," says study author Robert Wood, M.D., chief of the Division of Allergy and Immunology. "What this tells us is that not only are many of our immune responses shaped in the first year of life, but also that certain bacteria and allergens play an important role in stimulating and training the immune system to behave a certain way."

And it’s not just a little dust mixed with trodden crumbs he refers to. The three culprits tested were cockroach droppings and mouse and cat dander (this is what animals shed from their skin and fur). Infants who grew up exposed to these within the first 12 months of life had lower rates of wheezing at age 3, compared with children not exposed to these allergens soon after birth.

And even more astounding to a clean freak like me, the protective effect was additive. Apparently, infants exposed to all three allergens had a lower risk than those exposed to one, two or none of the allergens.

Now I don’t in any way propose feeding your precious mini-me lunch coated in floor “flour” or ground “grime”, but there’s no need to obsessively douse them with detergents ten times a day. And if you are a cat lover, it seems to be okay for Kitty to roam free to keep the house, mouse free…though it seems the little critters are not a health hazard either.

But no matter what the experts say, and call me old-fashioned, because I still believe in washing hands before eating is a good habit.

Terrible twos, threes, fours...Kids

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on Friday, 06 June 2014
“To anyone out there thinking about have kids, today my 2 year old threw a tantrum because she couldn’t get rid of her shadow”.

This story is hilarious to an adult but being a kid is not always fun and games. There is so much to learn. And sometimes it’s scary.

They don’t know the rules, and sometimes they don’t like the rules when informed. How are they meant to know that dogs bite when you try to take away the bone they are chewing? Adults are so bossy always telling them what to do, what not to do, and to stop doing “that”!

Four year old Kiki decided it was more fun to colour in her baby sister Polly, rather than using the markers in her colouring book. It made sense to her but not to mum who explained that you don’t colour real people, just the ones on paper.

And talking is not always easy either when they don’t have the words to tell you what they want/need/feel, so they cry. It’s like being plopped into an Inuit community in Alaska and trying to describe you are vegetarian in English to your host who doesn’t speak your language and who considers an apple exotic.

Toddlers are strapped in prams when they want to run free, served vegetables when they want fruit or cheese, and are put in bed when they want to play.

It’s a tough job learning everything about life and how to behave and to understand what’s right and wrong. Maybe the toughest job there is. So from all the two/three/four/five year olds who just wanna have fun and not get into trouble all the time, show a little kindness and a lot of patience.


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on Monday, 02 June 2014
Chris Parnell is a comedian, a new dad, and a man in love. Like many “manboys” he likes fart and poo jokes, and has managed to pen a completely silly but strangely beautiful lullaby.
The first time that I held you in the hospital I said,
I love you, I love you
You look like Winston Churchill dipped in putty but I said
I love you, I love you.
Now you're living in our house, and all you seem to do
Is sleep and eat and burp and cry and drool and pee and poo.
Which would really make me mad if it were anyone but you,
But I love you, I love you

There's urine on your onesie and there's spit-up on your bib,
But I love you, I love you
Some unknown viscous substance cakes the mattress in your crib,
But I love you, I love you

The solids and the liquids and the gases you let loose,
Are what some massive chemical explosion might produce.
You do it all the time and never offer an excuse
But I love you, I love you

You bother random strangers with your incoherent cries,
You shake your mother's nipples till they're raw,
You lay there doing absolutely nothing and I'm in awe.

Close your eyes and sleep my child until the morning light,
I love you, I love you
That's a joke, I know you'll wake me three more times tonight
But I love you, I love you

And as I lean above you with my pinky in your hand,
Singing words you couldn't possibly begin to understand.
The two things I'll be thinking are that I'm exhausted and,
I love you, I love you
I love you, I love you

Parenting parents

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on Tuesday, 27 May 2014
Does this ring any bells?

Your first born
How old is your baby? Oh he’ll be four months and two weeks on Sunday. (Accurate to the day)

Baby #2
How old is your baby?  Almost 5 months. (Near enough is good enough)

Baby #3
How old is your baby? Hmm, let me see. January, Feb…May. Four, no, five months, I think. (Ooops, he’s healthy, happy, meeting all milestones and alive. That’s all that matters)

Parenting takes many forms and sometimes you will not have all the answers. It is a skill most acquire with time and practice but I’d like to think there is thought and effort involved than mere circumstance….well, most of the time.

A few considerations for parents and nannies …

Children need risk in their lives - the playing outdoor/skinned knee kind to help them learn self-esteem, incentive, even to read signs of danger, and a myriad of other healthy risk-taking behaviours.

Parenting in this case is a balancing act but it’s not rocket science to allow your child to learn from mistakes. Mum and Dad’s over protection and indulgence can present an obstacle for learning problem solving and social skills.

Beware of mistaking intelligence or talent for maturity. If your child is gifted in one aspect of life, don’t assume it pervades throughout. There is no magic “age of responsibility” so assess each child with individuality of personality and development.

And practise what you preach. This is about as important as it gets in parenting and nannying. Being a responsible role model who is accountable and dependable for words and actions is probably the most beneficial learning for your children.

Parenting is the ultimate work in progress. Just when you think you might have mastered a skill or two, and even start to feel comfortable in your role, you might find yourself bamboozled by a situation or by child number two who is nothing like your first born. Soldier on. Smile. Breathe. Sing. Whatever it takes to get you through til they are safely tucked in bed and it’s “ME” time.

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