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Parenting 101

Posted by Nanny Knows Best
Nanny Knows Best
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on Tuesday, 17 September 2013
Some adults just don’t want to grow up. You are not your child’s “bestie”, nor “BFF”. You are the parent.

There comes a time when children don’t want you around when they are with their friends. Tweens are entitled to their own relationships and don’t need you trying to be one of the gang. Being the jokester dad or mum who wants to be one-of-the girls is not cool.

It’s so cringe worthy for a 10-year-old who does not have the words to explain to peers why my parents can’t leave us alone.

Allow your child space to develop a personality and explore their own social skills. And if you really, REALLY must show how “with-it” you are, employ the less is more rule and then exit the stage. Quickly. Your offspring will have more respect for you if you save your kooky behaviour for family time.

And if you find yourself uttering “I only want the best for you”, to encourage junior to sign up for Japanese or Fencing classes when his current ambition is a musical career, listen rather than trying to relive your own childhood regrets. The Pushy Parent is just plain ugly and unfair. Tread cautiously. Self-esteem and confidence may be compromised in a fragile and yet undeveloped character.

Every child carer at some point in time will be guilty of the dreaded mollycoddling. There comes a time when a child is ready for more responsibility even if you are not.

A solo trip to town or a movie, especially if it’s the first, can send parents into a head spin. “Make sure you wait for me to pick you up inside the entrance…in a well-lit area…actually, maybe your father and I can see a movie tonight and we can all go home together”.

It’s wonderful to love so completely, however, over-controlling will never allow her to learn independence. A lack of freedom may impede the ability to make a considered decision as she matures.

When you are in the thick of parenting and caring, it’s not so easy to find your rational self. The best advice is to take a moment to ponder, “What am I doing?”

Do you really want your little darlings penning their version of “Mommie Dearest”?

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Posted by Nanny Knows Best
Nanny Knows Best
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on Monday, 02 September 2013
Can a nanny have a favourite?

There will always be moments and even far-TOO-long-and-torturous-times, when one of the little darlings in your care is bound to be more likable than the others.

However, there is never a time when your behaviour towards each one must, and I stress, should not be fair and healthy, and without reproach.

Whilst one may be easier to engage, to enjoy, to be around, or to have fun with, this is a situation that should be a challenge rather than unjust.

Sweet, accommodating, respectful, versus frustrating, disobedient and just plain exhausting. Sarah pushes your buttons with her hyper, head-spinning behaviour, and her more subdued older sibling Jimmy embodies raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens.

Reality is that you won’t be able to sing your way out of a rock and a hard place, but don’t discount a cheery jingle under your breath. Think “The Sound of Music” and smile, Smile, SMILE!

Actually, forget the muteness, warble as loud as you can. Maybe one of you will soon be giggling.

Another approach is to turn this taxing time into an ideal opportunity to reinforce some ground rules and offer learning lessons. Be clear and consistent. Calm. Talk through what’s happening and aim for an outcome of understanding on both sides, even if you are the one stifling the tears. Life is not a TV sitcom solved in one episode, so don’t get too disheartened.

There is much research by learned souls confirming that attractive people favour more attention. Similarly, a cute child can also be more popular and a genetic lottery should not be an excuse for favouritism. Society's standards of beauty and the media don’t help, again no need to deliver inappropriate messages to impressionable minds.

A child is a blank canvas for new experiences. Depending on their age, first times can have a life-long impact so as the nanny it’s your job to make it positive. A happy memory. Constructive.

And when in doubt, hug.

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Posted by Nanny Knows Best
Nanny Knows Best
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on Monday, 12 August 2013
Nannies don’t have mind-reading superpowers. Well, maybe for little people under the age of three.

It's 10am and little Mr H is grumpy. Tired, hungry, sick or just plain naughty, sometimes it’s frustrating trying to work out why, and then have a solution.

Did he have a restless night? Wake up early? Fuss over breakfast? Is he testing boundaries? Revealing a stubborn streak?

There are a myriad of reasons for his puzzling behaviour and your nanny will probably be the only person with an explanation. Her relationship with your child is often as intimate as your own.

An ideal situation is one where nanny has your complete support and confidence that her decisions will be accepted by all. Maybe Mr H might have an issue, but it is his best interest that is everyone’s priority.

An initial interview is a great opportunity to discuss perspectives and philosophies. However, like any situation, feedback and regular communication can only benefit all involved.

Early days in any new job requires clarity and time. Also make sure you give any constructive criticism face to face – it can be really demoralising when someone is nice to your face and then an hour later you discover they weren’t happy.

And just like the consistency your nanny employs with your child, it is necessary to ensure it resonates all round. A child can easily and quickly take control of a situation. Dissension can lead to more difficult and louder behaviour. Not fun for anyone.

As Nanny V to a boisterous and ever challenging two year old boy, I am sure his mum was often perplexed by my choices. The decibels of his screeching would set off the neighbourhood canine community and anyone who has struggled through a similar exhibition of vocal prowess will know of the patience needed, and resulting exhaustion. Mine and his.

Sometimes, I would let his tantrums run their course, other times I took the opportunity to try to instil boundaries, but I always felt in charge of the situation. When the dust settled mum and I had quiet time for a cuppa and to review.

Because of the time your nanny spends with your child, more often than not you will need to heed her recommendations. You hired her for a reason, so defer to her on-hand experience. At the very least, allow her to provide context. Respect and cohesion are vital in any work environment, particularly within the intimacy of your home.

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A nanny fit for a Prince?

Posted by Nanny Knows Best
Nanny Knows Best
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on Thursday, 01 August 2013
Yay! He’s here.

Apart from the Royal “we”, a collective smile radiated from another hundred million or so humans with the news of the arrival of Prince George.

Whether we rejoice in the softness, his perfect mini fingers and toes, or the potential for greatness of a new earthly being, every child should be so wanted. It’s a no brainer how to love, but how to bring up baby is what every parent will struggle with at some point, no matter how confident or seemingly prepared and supported.

There has been an insane amount of discussion about who will influence and who will be responsible for our young prince. Is a nanny necessary? Important? Expected?

If asked, most would have a point of view about the subject of a child carer, as up until now, no God fearing royal and moneyed upper-class family would deign to consider doing it alone.

However, one must choose wisely when picking the quintessential individual who may even influence your child more than you imagine, or wish.

Someone who is never retiring about sharing her perspective, Kathy Lette even suggested it’s “…preferable that your offspring inherit your own personality flaws and not those of a Czech au pair with an eating disorder”.

Not that Duke and Duchess of Cambridge would allow just anyone into their fold. I’d imagine a stringent vetting process to ensure George has the guidance of a positive role model and life coach. One is never too young to begin training. Royal or not.

No pressure though. And no need for military boot camp quite yet.

A long and happy childhood and hopefully adults prepared to make learning fun. Or for the not-so-fun times, a gentle but consistent approach to create a strong foundation for future life lessons.

And when in doubt, there is always a mum close by with a hug when sleep deprivation addles the senses, and hopefully a happy story and laughter as she prepares a strong pot of tea.

If eventually the new parents do decide to seek assistance, Nanny V might just have her bags packed, ready to be of service...

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