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.


Posted by Nanny Knows Best
Nanny Knows Best
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on Tuesday, 02 July 2013
You’ve signed the contract, packed your bags, all excited about your new adventure, and yet the niggling butterflies in your tummy remind you of the great unknown ahead.

Whether it’s a lovely local daily job where you can retire to your own home once you clock off or a live-in role on the other side of the globe and jetsetting to a different hotel every few days, each situation has more similarities than you’d think.

Starting work with a new family requires the utmost concentration and every ounce of energy you can muster. I would argue that there is no steeper learning curve than the first two weeks of acquainting yourself with a new household’s routine and rules, parent’s desires and expectations, the food the children eat and their favourite outfits, and all the other necessary idiosyncrasies humans impose.

If possible, negotiate a cross-over period with the departing nanny. It’s the best opportunity to gather information. It is sometimes a fine line between interrogation and a barrage of questions, but you can delicately take advantage of an opportunity there won’t be again when you are flying solo.

And other household staff can also be your new best friends. Just beware of gossip, the kind of “upstairs downstairs secrets”, when unnecessary confidential disclosures may compromise you both.

Sometimes you will be part of a team of carers with contradicting methods and cultures to consider. I cannot stress enough to ensure your definition of what is expected is in sync with all involved.

I was once reprimanded by a dad for keeping junior in “time out” for too long. My instructions were to be “firm, but fair”, to instil manners and polite behaviour. The parents and I even discussed, at great length and ad nauseam, to the point I was ready to walk away jobless, our mutual understandings of everything related to their children.

There was never going to be a happy-ever-after ending to this job. Then again, maybe the interview should have been a blinding indication that the concept of consistency (well, the children were always a nightmare while we adults inflicted conflicting messages) ended with a final arbitration and a decision to part company.

However, after the briefest of conversations with a mum on another continent and another hemisphere, and two days later settled into my new lodgings, I knew it was a winner.

Harmony abounded with young and old and even the pets. Thank you Masha.

There are no guarantees. That’s what a probationary period is for. And remember to breathe.

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