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.

The art of suncreen application

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on Wednesday, 23 July 2014
OR
COME HERE IMMEDIATELY BEFORE YOU FRY

Sorry, but there is no art, trick, nor right way of applying sunscreen to a hot and sweaty child. It’s much like learning mouth to mouth resuscitation on a crash-test dummy, great in theory but no comparison to the real thing. Here is what I have learnt:-

FIND AND SECURE YOUR VICTIM
A child will not voluntarily approach if you have sunscreen visible in your hand so you need to be cunning. Otherwise, chase down said child, and employ the element of surprise to disrobe him/her before he/she realises what is happening.

DO NOT LET GO
Use a distraction tactic (“I have a secret to whisper in your ear”) to hold your victim whilst uncapping sunscreen with one hand and dousing as much liquid on skin as possible because you won’t get a second chance. Again before he/she is aware, cover every millimetre of head, shoulders, knees, and toes, to withstand a nuclear explosion. Disregard the whining, “it’s too cold/hot/sticky/gooey/ yucky/burning”. It is guaranteed the sunscreen will leak into eyes so with your third hand or left foot, grab child’s hands before they do a better job of rubbing the sunscreen in their eyes than you ever could.

BE PREPARED
I should have mentioned this up front, as there’ll be ferocious squealing and wriggling, and like a Girl Scout worth her chest full of badges, be prepared. Also ensure your own clothes are at throw-away stage as you will be covered in more sunscreen than your victim who will make every attempt to slither away. Don’t let go yet.

RE-DRESS YOUR VICTIM
If you consider dressing a child an exercise in contortion (yours and theirs), it’s a doddle to dressing a child marinated in more grease than a serve of buttered chicken. This is your final step so grit your teeth, and use any and all threats to get the job done. With the skerrick of remaining energy as you clean up the debris and collect the bags of towels, drinks, toys, and your sanity, remember to plop a sunhat on your victim with your final threat of “we are staying home if I see that hat come off”.

Nanny V has now demonstrated every what-not-to-do in the Nanny Rule Book, but I trust you appreciate a sense of humour is your most effective tool.

Googling

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on Wednesday, 16 July 2014
Last week I had one of those “times have really changed” moments when ten year old Tommy asked if he could google some important information.

Intrigued, I asked him to explain what was SO important that he could only find on google.

There’s a boy in my class who likes a girl in my class and he wants to find out how to get her to like him. He can’t google at home because his mum will find out so he asked me”.

Restraining bewilderment, suppressing all out laughter, and with the composure of my inner professional Nanny V, I had to enquire why a ten year old would imagine that google could provide more helpful information than his mum, his tutor, or me, females who know precisely what a girl likes and wants from a boy.

Tommy: “Oh Nanny V, you are SO old fashioned. Google knows everything”.
Me: “Oh Tommy, you have SO much to learn about life that google and computers could never teach you”.
Tommy: “Like what?
Me: “Where do I start?

Where DO I start???

So we discussed a couple of subjects like friendship and the concept of graciousness in winning and defeat when he plays football (also cuddles and how they make you feel good even when you are a ten year old boy who would never publicly admit to such behaviour!), so he could relate and understand, and so he could appreciate that life lessons come from experience and not technology.

I am not sure our discussion gelled. Actually, I wasn’t sure I gave him the correct information, so I googled “how to get a girl to like you” and I can report with great relief, my advice was spot on.

Life lesson #1, Nanny V is always right. #2, some old fashioned ways still apply today (and hopefully never change).

Winners

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on Thursday, 10 July 2014
Am I the only one watching the World Cup and blushing?

Oh I get excited as anyone when a GOOOOOOOOOOAAAAAAAAL is scored but then I have no choice but to turn away as the players celebrate because what ensues is downright excessive.

The emotions are heightened and egos blazing but is it really necessary for adult men to be so loved-up in public each time the ball goes into the net? If they weren’t on a field they’d be arrested for indecent behaviour (if such a law exists). And if it really is so absolutely necessary, why can’t they wait til the match is over? Where is the decorum, the style?

I’m blaming the sports psychologists for the constant high-fiving and grandiose behaviour with every goal or point scored in table tennis and volley ball, and the over-zealous parents on the basketball sidelines. It seems more time is spent revelling than playing and sadly I see it all too often at the playground as children mirror the behaviour of their adult heroes.

Sometimes I wonder why this obsession for winning is paramount rather than the enjoyment and the sense of participation. Playing games and sports is so much more than the final result.

A sense of achievement does not only mean being first as a child learns and develops skills. It’s the effort, focus, team membership, learning from mistakes and failure (and yes, even the lessons from winning), building character, and laughter we should be encouraging.

A trophy or medal eventually loses its sheen whilst a memory of fun and sharing an experience with friends is more beneficial to a happy child.

So let’s demonstrate a little class when we support them and make time for a debrief to acknowledge their effort and fun. And if you must, MUST indulge your inner champion, remember that a little style goes a long way.

Home schooling

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on Friday, 04 July 2014
Would you, could you, home school your child if money wasn’t an issue and you had the time and patience to teach reading, writing and arithmetic?

It’s not a simple YES or NO. The complexities are numerous and the consequences even more so. Outsourcing your child’s future is a primary consideration for every parent. Getting it right is not always straight forward.

A healthy bank account does not guarantee the most expensive schools provide individuality for your child and his/her needs?  Ditto with residing in a desirable school district. What these options offer is a sense of assurance, even when such institutions may not suit personality and talent.

What a school environment does provide and instil (hopefully in a healthy way) is routine, community and an opportunity to develop strong social and problem solving skills for the future.

Humans are social beings and interaction with others is a necessary aspect for happiness. Best friends, boy/girlfriends, business associates, band members et al have all been found in school playgrounds.

A home schooled child misses out on this much like an only child grows up in isolation. I am not saying either is ideal but possibly the former is easier for all concerned.

A previous boss once announced she had terrible news “…school holidays are three weeks, not two”. We all have our limits.

Cartoonist and philosopher, Michael Leunig, home schooled his two children for ten years “because they wanted to”.

"Having the top score at 18 isn't going to help if you have a nervous breakdown at 40. Life is a long time, much deeper and more serious than A-levels," he says

Poignant from a man with the luxury to cherish time with his offspring and to inspire them with a passion for learning.

Although he wouldn't tout home schooling - unless someone was already interested in the philosophy - he believes it has a special place in a climate where we cling to awards systems and standardised testing.

So while he and other kindred advocates relish in this path, it opens an interesting discussion for the rest of us who must conform to working away from home with hours not conducive to being both parent and teacher.

And some of us are even downright relieved to have a break from children.

Babysitters

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on Friday, 27 June 2014
Another long week is over and you are in dire need of a night out. Dinner without someone complaining the carrots are too orange, a non-animated movie, or adult conversation unrelated to offspring is the only cure.

Having children means micro-managing other humans to care for your babies and having the confidence that you will hopefully not receive a call to race to emergency because little Jenny has lodged a chickpea up her nostril, and that when you return home the house is intact and maybe the dishwasher has been emptied by a compassionate soul.

So how do you find this saviour of your emotional and mental state? And where?

Even nannies and regular go-to carers need time off so out comes your list.

1. Grandparents adore your mini-me possibly more than you do at times. But they live too far/ already have plans/aren’t responsible enough to put them to bed before delirium ensues. You appreciate their unconditional love and patience but the aftermath is almost too exhausting.

2. Other friends with kids with whom you can trade sitting nights, much like the barter system. However, beware to choose your candidates carefully as you might just get lumped with agitators so insufferable you will need to immediately sever contact with their entire clan.

3. Friends without offspring uninformed and idealistic about the bewitching bed time hours have a romantic image they will be baking biscuits with no mess or playing only 15 minutes of ninja battles. You may never hear from these “friends” ever again.

4. Local teenagers in need of pocket money are always eager and usually available at short notice (it’s how I started my fledgling career), though their value may be more inflated than you may initially imagine. A well-stocked larder for their insatiable stomachs, at the very least, Wi-Fi when they are ignoring your children because it’s the end of the world if they are offline even for a nanosecond, and the inevitable lift home when all you want to do is crash in bed before the dawn wake-up.

5. Your partner is a final option if it’s a girl’s/boy’s night out. This situation is wrought with all sorts of conundrums so I suggest you channel your inner 5-star general when laying out the game plan.

You love your babies and would lay down your life for their happiness but remember to make time for your own. Sanity and happiness sometimes takes mammoth energy to succeed.


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