1. All parents have a unique parenting style– When I first became a nanny, I did not know the extent to which the parenting styles for young infants could differ. I quickly learnt that as a nanny I needed to be able to adapt to the priorities of any given family. Whilst some parent’s top priority is for the nanny to ensure that their child is positive and happy, others require that the nanny’s role is to guide the children towards success – often through the use of stricter rules.
2. You have to take initiative every single shift – I had been looking after the children for a few months when a novel situation occurred. After school in the playground, a classmate of the young girl I nannied for was offering out chocolate cake to the class. I did not know how the parents would react to me allowing chocolate cake before dinner time (on a school day) and so I felt conflicted. I did what I thought the parents would appreciate and I kept the cake in my bag so that the parents could make the decision when they returned home. This, in turn, caused a huge tantrum at the time, however, it is never sensible to disrupt the parents trust in you just to keep the kids from shouting. Even though you may think that you have asked the parents all there is to know about the children, there will always be new situations. As a nanny it is your role to make an informed decision based on what you believe the parents would want you to do.
3. You cannot call in sick last minute – Unlike in other job roles such as bar work, calling in sick last minute is far more than a hindrance for your boss. Doing this can put the children in danger and can cause serious confusion and upset for them. Being responsible for children is one of the most important jobs you can have because the truth is, they do need you to survive. Although this can sound daunting, these responsibilities make you a more reliable person; a trait that you will then carry with you throughout the jobs you take on in your lifetime.
4. Your general knowledge will be scrutinised! – I thought I knew why things are the way they are and why words mean what they mean, however, this job taught me I knew less than I thought! Children from 3 years up question absolutely EVERYTHING. And it is your job to try and answer as accurately as you can whilst also encouraging them that being inquisitive is an amazing thing (despite how tiring it can get for you when there is always a “But WHY?” to everything you say).
5. You will have a significant impact on their lives – The infant years are crucial for the development of knowledge, personality and behavioural traits of an individual. This comes with both negative and positives. On the negative side, it means you need to seriously watch what you say and do – for example any phobias that you have must be kept hidden as best as possible to ensure that the children do not develop the same fears. On the positive side, impacting on somebody’s life in this way is extremely rewarding; you will teach them a huge amount of information that will stick with them forever.
6. Attachment can occur on both sides – For me, I enjoyed this aspect of nannying. You form a connection to the children; you enjoy their company and you get excited to see them. Therefore, calling it ‘work’ can (sometimes) feel silly since you would want to see them whether you get paid or not!
7. Looking after the child(ren) can be escapism – Due to how reliant the children are on you, there is not enough time to worry about anything else but them. You may start a shift feeling super stressed about an upcoming university assignment but by the end have forgotten you even attend university! Your attention is fully concentrated on the children and their needs.
8. It is impossible to be perfect – Depending on what the family set up is, sometimes the children’s parents may be in the room next door whilst you are nannying. I struggled with this at first because (whether they were or not) I felt that the parents were listening in to see how I was doing. Whilst the children were being well behaved this was not a problem – it was when they began misbehaving that my worries began. I did not want to be too strict also I did not want to be too lenient. I didn’t want the parents to think I was too harsh on the children but at the same time, I didn’t want to make it seem that I let them get away with anything. With time, through observing how the parents reacted to bad behaviour as well as becoming more comfortable with the whole family, I learnt to have confidence in my response to any behaviour.
9. They grow up – FAST!. – When I started, I would push the 2-year-old boy home from school in the buggy whilst his 4-year-old sister would scoot by the side of us. One year later and they were both biking back from school. With so many roads between the school and home, I had to be fully on the ball to ensure that both children (going at different speeds) were safe. The point here is that you need to be able to support and adjust to the children’s development – even when it makes your life more difficult.
10. The job is surprisingly simple – Despite on the surface being both physically and emotionally draining, at its core being a nanny is surprisingly simple. You need to keep the children alive. It sounds slightly abrupt, however, if you are keeping the children safe from danger, if you are feeding, changing and washing them as frequently as they require and finally if you are teaching them why all of these things are necessary for them to survive, then you are doing just fine!
By Madeleine P – Nanny for over 4 years
It is fair to say that I was really excited about the weaning process more so than most people as my son never took to the bottle. I had bought all the right equipment and I was determined to make all of my son’s food at home and put them in the fridge/freezer so we could be very efficient at mealtimes.
We hit the six-month mark and it was show time, we started him on apple sauce…. this didn’t go down well, at best he had one teaspoon and I was met with a tight lip, he was not having it. As it approached dinner time, I tried sweet potatoes, this was steamed and blended to a consistency that was close to milk so I had high hopes. Not surprising he was too excited about his meal choice that night. I was soon realising I had a very critical dinner guest. The irony was he seemed to have so much interest for my food so the following week I tried serving his meals in our normal bowls and funny enough he seemed to eat more spoonful of his meals. As soon as I felt like we were making progress, after three weeks, he went on a full food strike. Even his favourites could not get him to open his mouth. We were now back to fully breastfeeding and due to him being more mobile his requirement for milk was much higher and as a result I was always tired, like dead tired.
I decided to follow his lead and try small amounts of food every day. I bought him the small snack pouches and he would take a small sip. Slowly he was coming around to eating again. I felt some kind of relief as it worried me that nothing, I tried was working on him. As means of increasing his milk intake I bought a Doidy cup as advised by our health visitor. Sadly, this did not work for us and he was more interested in putting his hand inside the cup rather than having the contents in his mouth. If anything in life could teach me patience it would be the process of weaning. Fast forward three months and I am better luck, each time he eats his meals I honestly feel grateful and a sense of relief. If I could speak to the old me, I would say the following
1. Take it slow, the experience is new to the both of you, so it is better not to have high expectations
2. Your baby’s food consumption is not reflective of how good or bad you are as a mum
3. Keep trying, just because it doesn’t work the first 50 times does not mean that it won’t ever
4. Don’t pressure your child, I believe they can sense it.
5. Be ready for the mess that comes with weaning, the clean-up alone still takes me 45 minutes
6. Don’t batch make food until you know what your child prefers
The experience of weaning is different for every parent, the above is reflective of my own experience, please seek advice from a qualified practitioner when it comes to getting advice about your weaning journey.