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.

NOT SECOND BEST

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on Monday, 01 June 2015
I've never really understood why coming first, being first, or winning, is so important in life.

When people think Second Place Is For Losers, it basically means that if someone gets second place in a competition (that has more than two contestants), it's little better than coming in last. It doesn't matter if you've won a footrace with everyone on the planet, and bested 6,999,999,998 people (or there about). All that matters is you didn't beat the one.

Is it losing or nearly winning? Is it doing your best and being elated with your performance but disappointed because one person did their best better than yours?

As a five year old in grade one, Sister Anthony gave us large brown 1960s-era shopping paper bags and paint. Boys drew Prince Charming. Girls, Cinderella.

Mine was voted the best which meant that my acting debut had me muffling lines about a glass slipper and wicked step-sisters through the bag on my head. It scarred me for life.

I sometimes wonder if I hadn't come first and consequently subjected to this simultaneous art and drama class, I may have eventually found my own path to a Thespian life and obviously, great stardom!

Bertrand Russell so eloquently philosophised, "real life is, to most men, a long second best, a perpetual compromise between the ideal and the possible".

In all seriousness it is well and good to strive for the best, but delight in the journey and the lessons encountered, as this is what makes a life. The vision, the passion, the discipline, humbleness, relief, and judgement are merely a few aspects to consider.

Compromise may sound boring in an equation for success, however, one must consider too, responsibility and balance are important for achieving long term goals.

I guess I will never have the fire and determination to coach the next Roger Federer or the stubborn doggedness to motivate another Steve Jobs, but I do and will have the compassion and unconditional support for each child I help to feel good about their achievements no matter how simple or momentary.

Sometimes all a child needs is hugs and smiles and knowing that you care about them.

OHMMM

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on Monday, 09 March 2015
The most carefree period in life is childhood. Or is this simply a myth we adults perpetuate to feel good about the choices we make for our little darlings?

The fact is that children experience many fears: fear of the dark, fear of monsters, fear of abandonment, fear of the future, fear of not being good enough, and even the fear of disappointing parents who they love unconditionally and yet, rarely understand.

Teaching children the skill of meditation, to find silence within, to focus on one thought, sound or breath at a time, will guide them to stay in the moment where they are safe, and to a place they have greater power and control over their lives.

Although meditation was originally meant to nurture a person's spiritual well-being,our modern generation is largely interested in its relaxation and stress-busting benefits. I say it's a great introduction to mindfulness. And an even better start to learning about happiness.

Google "meditation for kids" and the list of noted schools for higher learning, respected wise and learned souls, and even the Dalai Lama himself espouse the many wondrous benefits.

"If every eight year old in the world is taught meditation, we will eliminate violence from the world in one generation".

Such is the vision of wishful thinking.

It would be lovely to think that meditation is an elixir for all that is difficult in life to counter the emotional, pyschological and physical challenges we encounter. But not trying doesn't help either.

Search out what works for you. Books, classes, internet, friends, all provide information

Sometimes all the ohmms in your world won't be enough. And sometimes staring at flickeing flames or crashing waves will. Maybe a new breathing technique might be your thing.

All you need is to find a few minutes in your day to teach your child about inner strength or peace or whatever it is you feel silence offers. If it becomes routine, like brushing your teeth, the blessings will come.
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TIME TO BACK OFF

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on Thursday, 19 February 2015
"I need my space".

The "GRRRR" that follows is usually a competition between adult and teen for who is in control, or at least, whose needs are the priority.

This "space" is time to chillout and socialise, and freedom from parental nagging, pestering and pressure.

It's your child's final year of high school so brace yourself for the simmering pressure cooker and the battle-mania on the home-front. The significance of the year with the expectation to perform well creates an extra tension for any individual, particularly a hormonal teenager.

With their brains and bodies still developing, transitioning in the midst of trying to secure their future education is not always a joyous journey. Typically teens are also exploring their independence and wanting to make their own decisions.

There is no real magic formula. It's a dynamic tight rope walk of sorts between allowing freedom and keeping oversight of study.

A supportive parenting style sets some boundaries and rules, but it is also open to discussing these, and to acknowledge the child's growing independence and self responsibility. Encourage your children to set their own goals, assess the consequences of their actions, and learn from their successes and failures.

A few tips:-

• Continue your regular routines, conversations and ensure they don't lose touch with familiar activities and surroundings.
• Agree on personal space for study and time out and discuss acceptable messiness boundaries
• Look out for signs of trouble coping as you may need to step in and consider help with both study and emotional issues
• Let them know you are proud of their efforts and achievements by acknowledging success. Though keep it simple and low key as there will inevitably be troughs with the peaks ahead.

And when it's all over, you'll both be smiling...well at least still talking.

THE POPE SAYS…

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on Friday, 16 January 2015
This week's trivia question: He's a bloke who prefers the tube to a fancy chauffeured car, loves football, dancing, and poetry, worked as a bouncer in a bar and holds a master's degree in chemistry. Oh, and his favourite song is One Direction's, You Don't Know You're Beautiful, which he describes "a great pop tune with a killer hook".

Although my title may have been a giveaway you also may be wondering how Pope Francis can help get your little cherubs to eat their greens or do their homework without moaning about it.

Well he can't. Sorry to mislead you but whether you are religious or not, his "Tips for Happiness" are still worth considering as relevant and beneficial to caring for children.

Let's start with the basics, "...people who work must take the time to relax, to be with their families, to enjoy themselves, read, listen to music, play sport." Pope Francis acknowledges how hard it is to make time for such endeavours and as your children grow and develop interests so does your list of priorities.

Time races by so terrifyingly fast and you might just discover one day you don't know your children. Your fault, not theirs, as it's your responsibility to sit at the dinner table with no TV, drive them to school or football training with the radio off, and go for a walk with your mobile nowhere near your ear or your hands.

When you are dealing with a squealing child or an irritable teen, finding the headspace for the Pope's philosophy to "let go of negative things", "move quietly", and "live and let live" is not only a struggle, but seemingly ludicrous. However, you do have the option of taking a deep breath and keeping calm and hoping your unruffled demeanour will help you cope if not compose your child. Children also learn by example and with time success and peace should win over.

"Find ways of making jobs for young people". I know he means once they are legally employable and in need of an income, but I say, why wait. Chores, cleaning up games, toys and after dinner and other household responsibilities are a great beginning to instil respect and values.

And not that I'm advocating alcohol as a remedy, keep in mind even the Pope has his daily sacramental wine. Amen to that.
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The Finnish Way

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on Friday, 09 January 2015
Here's a thought. Giving school children a 15-minute break after each lesson will make them more attentive in class and focused on learning.

Since the 1960s the Finns have been providing breaks after regular 45 minutes sessions and magically the children appear back in their classrooms rested and ready for their next lesson. Actually, there is no magic necessary as students respect their recess time and apparently know this routine as well as UK students know theirs.

The structured freedom throughout the day is also based on the concept that as their bodies and minds recharge they are also benefitting from learning the usual playground skills of learning to cooperate, communicate and compromise, developing social competence.

Nordic lands don't particularly have a friendly all-year-round climate and yet spending time in the outdoors is greatly supported in schools.

Most primary schools in East Asia also follow this model where students have 10 minutes after a 40 minute lesson, as it is believed that taking regular breaks from mental tasks improves productivity and creativity, whilst skipping breaks can lead to stress.

Dr James Levine, Professor of Medicine at The Mayo Clinic in the USA, says,"...the design of the human being is to be a mobile entity." He is also a proponent of standing and walking around, which is encouraged in the Finnish model as teachers alternate between yard duty and coffee breaks.

"Mental concentration is similar to a muscle", explains the good doctor. "It becomes fatigued after sustained use and needs a rest period before it can recover, much as a weight lifter needs rest before doing a second round of repetitions at the gym."

Makes sense, particularly if you believe the story that Albert Einstein came up with the theory of relativity riding his bicycle.

I just like the idea of school kids keen to learn with minds refreshed and ready to concentrate.
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