As the (oft-quoted) saying goes, babies don’t come with a manual. However, there’s an abundance of well-meaning advice out there which every new and soon-to-be parent needs to sift through – starting from maternity leave and continuing indefinitely.
In my (limited) experience, some parenting skills can be read, some can be learnt, some taught and a lot is instinct. But aside from family, one source I’ve found particularly helpful is my fab nanny, J, who works with us in a nannyshare with Scrip’s best buddy. I’m eternally grateful for everything she brings with her and the way she cares for, teaches and most importantly, loves Scrip – which was the number one priority when we sat down in Pain Quotidien a year and a half ago and first interviewed her.
For her tender years (she’s almost a decade younger than me) she’s a qualified child carer with a lot of practical experience and she’s taught me so much. Here are just five things:
- Distraction is sometimes the only way. Whilst I’m tempted to explain things to Scrip – especially now she’s asking so many questions – or deal with issues head on, I’ve learnt that sometimes, the only way is distraction. When I’ve had to leave Scrip to go to work or they’ve had to do something she wasn’t keen on, J is a master of distraction – and I’ve learnt to be one, too.
- Always try and keep naptime at home. I was out and about as much as I could be when Scrip was little and naps would often be in the pushchair or in the car. Staying in seemed constraining. But J always makes sure she’s here and it’s really helped with getting Scrip into a routine. There’s no keeping her moving or popping her in the car to fall asleep – she knows what naptime means and where it is, and there’s usually no complaint.
- Always eat at the table. This is one we’re both keen on – I didn’t want to have a child tearing around, half-eaten biscuit in hand. J feels the same and she always makes sure both little ones eat at the table and stay until they’re finished. She’s taught me that they can be patient and can wait for a short time – even when they’re really small.
- Don’t force potty training. With a little girl who’s always been alert and keen to learn and mimic, I was happy to embrace potty training from 18 months onwards. Scrip had other ideas. She’s still nervous of the potty (‘too big’ she says…) J reminds me not to rush, that she’ll get there in the end but only with patience. If you encourage too enthusiastically, she’ll only be put off.
- TV is OK for a treat. J is the most vehemently anti-TV person I know – I remember trying to explain how to turn on the TV when she first started working here, but she told me she didn’t need to know as she never watched it. When she’s babysat for us she’s read or used her iPad – she never watches it herself here or at home. But I know even J turns to the TV when one of the little ones is not feeling so good and she advocates that. It keeps them entertained and distracted. She’s taught me that there’s a time and a place – and she has a good point.
Parenting is a constant learning process – and this is just a fraction of what I’ve picked up so far. But I’m so grateful for what I’ve learnt. What about you – what have you learnt about childcare from the people around you? I’d love to hear.
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