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.

Pass the Panadol please

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Nanny Knows Best
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on Friday, 05 September 2014
Some days are going to be tough. That’s life.

The Dalai Lama may be the happiest person on earth but even he must suffer the occasional ache. Whether he succumbs to a pill to help him along is not really any of my business and who am I to judge him anyway.

I’ve witnessed parents, carers, nannies, grandparents, all surrender, or is it crave, chocolate/crisps/a glass of wine/beer/ice cream to cope. My downfall is salad bowl size of muesli & yogurt to satisfy the hunger of room full of sweaty yoga types.

So when I heard the following story from a teacher, it gave me pause to consider what our seemingly harmless behaviour may be instilling in the young minds who observe us.

 “I was asked to assist with a crying five year old who was refusing to go back to class. His problem was huge. Huge to him. He didn't have money for the Mother's Day stall.

Me: Hey it’s OK. Not everyone has money for the stall.

Him: (backing up)

Me: Have you got a daddy at home?

Him: (nod, yes)

Me: I think your daddy might buy you something to give to your mummy. What's mummy's very favourite thing? Chocolate?

Him: (shakes head, no)

Me: What then?

Him: PANADOL.

We established HIS favourite thing was jelly beans and he was given five, cheered up and went to class”.

Me: Note to self to have a quiet chat with mum”.

The empathetic adult in me laughed when I heard this. The responsible adult and nanny then realised the poignancy.

Children have ears and eyes and hearts bigger than we imagine and give them credit for. They soak in everything, good and bad, that happens around them. Just because they may not understand, they do learn from these moments.

I’m not advocating you hide in the laundry or under the table to munch on your mars bar and skull your wine, just temper and be aware of what your children will pick up from what you do.

Ring ring

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on Monday, 01 September 2014
When ABBA penned the lyrics, “I stare at the phone on the wall”, mobile phones only existed on TV as Maxwell Smart’s shoe phone or Inspector Gadget’s wrist watch. It was a time when parents were more relaxed about keeping an eye on their children.

Now that we have the convenience of technology we have the dilemma of when to introduce them to it as well as the struggle to keep up with the terrifyingly fast advancements ourselves.

 So when is it the right time to allow your offspring to connect? Buy them their own phone? Cheap phone, or the one with all the bells and whistles and access to apps and never-ending chatter?

Leonie Smith, a cyber safety educator, suggests age is not a deciding factor, making the decision a whole lot trickier for parents. “It’s based on what your child’s needs are”.

Keeping in touch when they’re out, co-ordinating pick ups, and in an emergency, are all valid reasons for their first phone. If your intention is a responsibility you grant your children rather than a new gadget/toy, the road ahead may be a little less fraught with the pitfalls of whopping bills with game app purchases or downloading free messaging or dating services that can put them at risk.

“Children are more exploratory and most parents I know have their heads in the sand when it comes to social media and smart phones”, she explains.

So a few tips to avoid issues ahead:-
  • Start off with a cheap flip phone you can limit the numbers dialled in and out
  • Find a cheap phone plan
  • Set clear rules about usage
  • Communicate with other parents about their experiences and opinions
  • Be a realistic role model – if your phone is glued to your face or fingers racing across the screen incessantly, don’t expect your children to behave differently.

Like most things when it concerns your mini-me’s, learn what they’re up to and keep the lines of communication open with “face time” because hanging out with your children is still what matters most.

Happily Ever After

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on Tuesday, 26 August 2014
Fairy tales have their place like chocolate or Gameboys. An escape, not every day, and a little goes a long way.

Teaching our little princes and princesses that life is enchanting and magical is wonderful if a good dose of reality and hard work is also stressed. Although child psychologists and feminists may argue that fantasy is confusing or harmful, I’m an optimist who likes to believe in the possibilities, something children do easily and ever-so naturally.

So with a Mary Poppins skip in my step let’s take a look at a few Disney heroines and see if there is a lesson or two to be learned.

The Little Mermaid’s Ariel, completely alters her appearance, gives up her voice, family, friends and home for the sake of a man she loves only because of his looks – and he has to fall in-love with her for no reason other than what he sees.

Lesson 1 is what not to do if you desire a relationship based on equality and self-worth. Hmm, not such as good start.

Cinderella had a number of imaginary animal friends to whom she turned to for counsel to deal with the harsh conditions of her life. Totally delusional, she crashes the palace ball, loses her slipper and still lands Prince Charming because of her small shoe size.

Lesson 2 is not so fantastical if you consider Princess Kate or Mary. Not that I in any way suggest they are mentally unstable (or have deformed feet for that matter), rather, that dreams sometimes, if rarely for most of us, do come true.

Snow White is simply too pretty for her own good. She escapes death to become a house frau for a family of little men, until another Prince Charming arrives on his white steed to save her.

Lesson 3 suggests that beauty is the key to happiness. If only!

It seems these lessons are not the soundest so time to reinforce that stories are entertainment. They don’t always have an appropriate message but fashion magazines and fast foods can also create a questionable influence if a daily obsession rather than an occasional treat.

Does that mean than every unmarried nanny shouldn’t dream of a widowed captain to serenade her like in The Sound of Music?

A Principal's Pride

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on Wednesday, 30 July 2014
Last week I shared a story by my old school friend, Rachel, now a school principal and dedicated educator. For those of you who missed the following letter from another principal when it recently went viral, it deserves your attention for the individuals who choose a teaching vocation with a joyous passion.

“Please find enclosed your end of KS2 test results. We are very proud of you as you demonstrated huge amounts of commitment and tried your very best during this tricky week.

However, we are concerned that these tests do not always assess all of what it is that make each of you special and unique. The people who create these tests and score them do not know each of you– the way your teachers do, the way I hope to, and certainly not the way your families do.

They do not know that many of you speak two languages. They do not know that you can play a musical instrument or that you can dance or paint a picture. They do not know that your friends count on you to be there for them or that your laughter can brighten the dreariest day.

They do not know that you write poetry or songs, play or participate in sports, wonder about the future, or that sometimes you take care of your little brother or sister after school. They do not know that you have travelled to a really neat place or that you know how to tell a great story or that you really love spending time with special family members and friends.

They do not know that you can be trustworthy, kind or thoughtful, and that you try, every day, to be your very best… the scores you get will tell you something, but they will not tell you everything.

So enjoy your results and be very proud of these but remember there are many ways of being smart.”

If I just may add, they also do not know about the pleasure you bring your teachers, families and Nanny V because you are you.

A Principal's Day

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on Wednesday, 30 July 2014
When I met Rachel in grade 6 a few decades ago I had no inkling she would one day become responsible for the education of young minds. However, it is her role as a School Principal I am most in awe. She is a psychologist, administrator, nurse, proxy-parent, big sister, judge & jury, all out wonder woman and I celebrate her passion and boundless patience.

Below is a recent post from her Facebook page.

Today was frantic. After little lunch it was noticed that a 5 year old hadn't returned to class. I got a call from the office and normally in these circumstances I would fly out to find the missing kid.

However, today that was impossible.

At the time of the phone alert I had:
1 x wet puddle playing 5 year old,
1 x 7 year old with autism who needed to chill out in his fave spot under an armchair,
1 x angry year 6 plonked on another armchair,
2 x disobedient year 7s smirking in the doorway, and
1 x year 2 who has lost all sense of what is right!

So things went like this…
Me to smirkers: I don’t even care why you are here, I don’t have time. Get out and find this short kid with floppy sandy coloured hair. GO!
They ran off.
Me to the grump in the chair: I know you like to be cranked for hours but right now you need to pull yourself together and get out on the hunt for the same short kid with the same floppy sandy coloured hair. GO!
He left. Then I had a problem. What to do with the mud covered 5 year old and the 7 year old with autism??
I decided - nothing. Leave them. They wouldn't dare venture out...I HOPED!
So I turned to the year 2 who had forgotten how to behave entirely.
He said: Shall I look for the short kid too?
Me: No, but you can come while I look AND tell you off at the same time.
He followed me.... or I thought he did.
By now the parents were filling the yard for home time. I had rung the missing child's mother. I was marching around the school, dialling the police, looking for a short kid with floppy sandy hair, and telling a kid off. I stopped to check on the year 2 with no sense of right but he had fallen behind me by about 10 feet.
All this time I have been ranting at thin air. He hadn’t heard a word.
He heard the next 100 words clearly as he was told to: GET UP HERE. WALK WITH ME WHILE I ATTEMPT TO TELL YOU OFF!! BLAH BLAH BLAH...
The short kid with floppy sandy hair was found hiding in the bushes a stone’s throw from his classroom. Tomorrow he has no playtime.
The child with autism remained in the office and played with the muddy 5 year old.
The muddy 5 year old's socks dried.
The music played (no bells at Rachel’s school) for kiddie home time.
If you have read all of this you are amazing!!

I THINK RACHEL IS THE AMAZING ONE.


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