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Birth notice

Posted by Nanny Knows Best
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on Monday, 08 December 2014
birthnotice-176You might read this and think it is an extreme of what parenting is all about. How wrong. What next?

Let me enlighten you why I believe Mama and Papa Bogert are precisely the kind of mum and dad I would hope are the norm rather than the exception. Reason being, unconditional love and acceptance.

Parenting is a tough gig. There are no guarantees. And just when you start to feel comfortable and think you know your offspring, they surprise you…not always in a good way, or with something you might be completely unprepared for.

On so many levels giving birth to a daughter who rejects your expectations and challenges what society also presumes is acceptable behaviour can be a humdinger of a situation.

And yet Kai gets to grow up, learn, and discover life and the best in people through his parents.

“It is all very new to us. Kai told me a few days ago that he no longer wanted to live as a girl”, Mrs Bogert said.

“I need to show my son I support him 100 per cent and wanted to let the world know that”.

And she does it with grace and humour and a good dose of reality. “Tidy your room”.

Now that’s a mum who is a real parent.

Parenting times tables

Posted by Mum About Town
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on Tuesday, 11 November 2014
The school gates are buzzing with news of the latest parenting course.  Most of those talking about last night’s session are feeling ‘empowered’, ‘relieved’ and ‘calmer, definitely calmer’ about how to deal with their rebellious offspring.  And, as I jumped back into my car to hide from those with sparklingly new superhuman parenting powers, I wondered why such a course would be MY world’s biggest nightmare?

Now, just to be clear… we’ve all waxed lyrical about hard parenthood is but saying NO and obedient bedtimes I honestly do feel I have now nailed.  I’m kind when I need to be and fierce in between…so, why do I need any further instructions to get these small people to function?

It’s not that I’m as arrogant as I sound nor that I think that I couldn’t learn how to raise my Smalls better. But I’m puzzled as to why we can’t simply learn on the job.

My own mother and grandmother certainly never took a course in child rearing.  And yet they were dab hands.  So is today’s society suggesting we need to excel at parenting, on top of the ever-increasing list of hoops to jump?  Isn’t it fine to just be OK at this skill? Or at least to work out a way which works best for us? Besides, what in god’s name is ‘real parenting’? Are some people actually getting away with faking it?

Juggling dads

Posted by Mum About Town
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on Tuesday, 16 September 2014
There’s something about chatting to dads which gives all of us mums some kind of perspective.  Less domestically competitive and certainly less emotional, a dad can make any parenting challenge feel more like a game. So when I was offered interviews with a couple of well-known dads about their work/life balance*, I literally leapt at the chance in the hope that I might pick up some parenting skills at the same time.

First up was James Cracknell.  Having survived a near fatal crash, the Olympic gold medalist probably finds looking after his three smalls a bit of a breeze.  We chatted about ‘those other dads’ at the school gates, home births and the possibility of pressure on the school sports field.

The other dad I met is one of my foodie heroes.  Jason Atherton is a Michelin star chef and, having reviewed ALL of his London restaurants, I was eager to know how he runs his empire whilst juggling being a super dad.

As it turned out, both dads were pretty honest.  Parenting (of course) isn’t a piece of cake nor a row in the park. But the bottom line is being present (both in person and without an iPhone).

*Thanks to Not On The High Street for setting up these interviews for me as part of the dadpreneur campaign.

Parenting parents

Posted by Nanny Knows Best
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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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Posted by Nanny Knows Best
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on Tuesday, 11 March 2014
We are fortunate to live in a time with experts and doctors, psychologists and sages offering incessant information about life and how it should be lived, including our children and the mystifying task of raising them.

It’s wonderful to have so many choices and access to the latest studies but who should you trust with your child’s wellbeing. Apart from keeping them alive, healthy, meeting all the growing milestones, there is education and social skills, sports, emotional and psychological development, and the list goes on and on until at times you are overcome with exhaustion and fear in simple contemplation.

Well it’s not me and it’s not the latest guru peddling a new book or a morning TV show mouthpiece with a quick fix solution.

It’s YOU. You are the expert.

A parent (and often the nanny) knows their child better than any outsider. You know their rhythms, likes and dislikes and all their subtle idiosyncrasies. You know the difference between a genuine cry and the I-want-a-sweetie-right-now-wail. Is the homework not getting done because of laziness or there’s an underlying issue to address.

Trust your instincts. Listen to your child’s life without fear or panic. If you have been paying attention, you’ll know. If you need help, seek the guidance, advice, opinions until you feel satisfied.

Creating a solid foundation to know your child means going for a walk, playing cards, eating a meal together, exchanging stories, without the distraction of your phone… being in the moment. Some call it mindful parenting. I am more of the school of thought that it’s Parenting 101.

The world can be a daunting concept when you are responsible for a young being. I suggest occasionally taking guidance from Peter Pan…a little pixie dust and imagination can be a wonderful thing.

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Posted by Nanny Knows Best
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on Monday, 13 January 2014
UK folk say it a lot and often.

“Sorry” seems to be a word to absolve us of life’s errors from accidental blunders to the colossal intentional mistakes. Sometimes we mean it. Sometimes it’s simply politeness.

Whatever the reason behind the apology, it’s fundamental to how we relate to others and an important aspect of ethics.

However, according to child psychologist, Michael Carr-Gregg, “I think the word “sorry” has lost its meaning”.

What? When did this happen?

Every now and then I have to wonder about experts and their latest revelations. And there is nothing about this one to make me change my mind about old fashioned manners and doing the right thing.

Of course young children have no idea about the significance of words. So the “please” and “thank you” we teach them start off as simple parroting. It’s a beginning to understand compassion and being grateful.

Similarly, sorry is more than a word. The concept of remorse is a starting point for a conversation to learn. It takes time. Some of these times there will be opportunity for a longer discussion to explain emotions and empathy. When this is not possible, defer “the talk” but ensure you follow through. As with most lessons, it’s the consistency you instil that sets the stage for future behaviour.

It bamboozles me when I see parents and carers neglecting to parent. Actually, more than anything it saddens me. Yes, parenting is a tough gig. No, there aren’t excuses for shirking responsibility.

Children are not to blame for repeated unacceptable behaviour. Challenging the boundaries and rules is how they learn. So do them, and yourselves a favour, to take the time and interest to show them.

And now I will calm down, take a breath, stop my bossy Nanny V finger waving, and admit to making many mistakes. Like the time I thought it’d be a great idea to organise a mud fight. But that’s another story.

I subscribe to the basics … "Play fair. Don’t hit people. Say you’re sorry when you hurt somebody." It’s a good start for everyone.

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Working mum

Posted by Mum About Town
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on Monday, 18 November 2013
I used to think that there were only two kinds of mothers: those who went to work and those who didn’t. And now, of course, I realise that I am the third type: the one who falls in between, in no-mum-land.

Those who wear high heels and swishy power suits aren’t sure whether or not to ask me what I’m up to today as I drop the Smalls at the school gates. Meanwhile, those sporting flat tummies in their Lululemon work-out gear are unsure about how busy I really am in my freelance world so tend to hesitate before suggesting I join their coffee shop gang…

I’ve said it before and I’m bound to wax lyrical again, but I honestly feel that one of the hardest things about giving up your career to have children isn’t losing the salary. It’s about losing your place in the world. Suddenly you’re not the somebody you were, but instead you’re somebody’s mum. Of course, being the best mother you know how IS a full time job and anyway flexible, part-time jobs are few and far between but, most crucially, the cost of going back to work is more than a number of us can possibly earn.

The government hasn’t helped the situation either. George Osborne’s changes to childcare subsidy and child benefit costs could feel like an attack on full-time mothers. Having worked part-time (often dressed in my OWN lululemon uniform) for the last nine years that I have been the Smalls’ mum, I’m constantly juggling the balancing act of work/family commitments – whilst also trying to discover my still relatively new identity…

You can read more musings from Emma at

Are your children always right?

Posted by Mum About Town
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on Monday, 11 November 2013
‘Of course not!’ I hear you chime. But it’s HOW you tell them that they’re wrong that is bothering me most this week. A mother I know of (not Gwyneth P. although she is almost as glamorous but with less hilarious named offspring) NEVER seems tells her child off. It’s almost as if this child lives his own world, ruled only by him. When I’m in the vicinity of this little mite, I want to scream: NO! Don’t do that! But, while of course I refrain, I do wonder what sort of self-assured monster he will be on the dating circuit and how on earth he will respond to his future boss when corrected? Don’t get me wrong, I’m trying my hardest not to judge other parents, but surely we have a responsibility to show our children how to behave? And isn’t their future happiness intrinsically linked to the understanding of right and wrong?

On the other side of this guessing game they call parenting, I do worry that I tell my Smalls off too much. In fact, one of them woke up this morning saying that he had had a nightmare.

‘What was it about?’ I enquired sympathetically. ‘I was being controlled,’ he responded cautiously ‘my whole dream was about being controlled.’

Well, as you can only imagine, this sent me into a total spiral of parental self-examination. Am I even allowing these small beings to live and breathe? Should they decide themselves when is the best time to practice the piano? Or maybe handing in half-done homework might work a treat?

‘Mummy, you’re not listening to me’ he added. ‘I was a robot. A really clever, bionic robot controlled by a super-natural force.’

A temporary wave of relief rushed over me. For the moment, I was off the hook. Meanwhile I think we’ll do some painting after school today instead of those dreaded times tables.

You can read more musings from Emma at

Parenting 101

Posted by 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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