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THE GOOD-ENOUGH NANNY

Posted by Nanny Knows Best
Nanny Knows Best
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on Monday, 30 September 2013
It’s one of those days.

All the reasons you started out in child care are not working for you. The passion is a distant memory. The knowledge and skills have abandoned you. And your brain, it’s as grubby as a toddler’s smile post self-feeding of chocolate cake.

It’s not the end of the world. And hopefully, all is not lost. I recently heard a comedian describe herself as a “good-enough” parent. No mother of the year awards adorned the family room mantle, and yet home life functioned perfectly fine. Even if her mother-in-law wore a certain expression of braced disdain at every visit.

When her son asked mum to peel an orange, she told him to grab a biscuit because she was too tired, consumed by domestic chores, or something like that.

Some readers may squeal “child neglect”. Others consider it regular behaviour. But so much more is expected of the nanny.

After all, you are employed to perform a job. And like every other role in society, duty of care and excellence are expected.

In my experience, if your approach and perspective aims for the ideal, then more often than not, you’ll reach the goal you set.

It’s not life threateningly detrimental to give a child a sweet (allergies withstanding), as we all need treats and special moments in life to find balance. It’s what you do most of the time that matters. Though the message you convey is what is important.

And it’s not just about the food either. It might be a favourite play time or toy. Anything to occupy a young mind while you find your groove.

So once you’ve cleaned up the chocolate mess, get some fresh air, hydrate, get your own chocolate fix, employ whatever you need to get back on track and on to your best game. Just know it will happen again, although next time you will recognise the signs earlier and kick into high gear without too much disruption. Well, that’s the theory.




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GREAT EXPECTATIONS

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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