You’ve got yourself ready and it’s time to go – no turning back now! I was successful in obtaining the position of a nanny to a family of seven – yes, that’s right, five children with two very, very busy parents who were often out of the country.
There had been ‘a coffee at the café’ interview with mum (Janet), who had given me loads of information about what she and her husband were expecting – fortunately, not another baby!! These kids were super heroes in the making, by the sound of things, but I didn’t let it get to me. Who knows, I could be a super nanny in the making!! The time to meet the rest of the family had arrived so there I stood on the front porch hoping I didn’t look too much like Mrs. Doubtfire.
Oh my goodness! I had been in some pretty big houses up until now, but this one took the cake. There seemed to be no end to it and then from somewhere far away there came a noise – ‘She’s here!!’
Well at least I knew they could all run and it was straight towards me! Three large boys and two not so large girls and yes, they were all smiling. This might be ok, I thought. How tough could it be? Really?……… Really? Janet and Ted wished me luck, told the kids to be good and vanished – they had obviously done this before, I thought, and then I thought for some reason they would make a great disappearing act for a circus.
It was like a showdown. There were no weapons apart from the solid steel stares I was receiving, and you could have cut the air with one of Barbie’s picnic knives. I smiled and said, ‘Well, I’d love to get to know you better so how about we sit down in here for a while and have a chat?’
The eldest boy, Ted Jr., told me he didn’t need a nanny at thirteen years of age. The other two boys told me the same thing. The girls just wanted to know where I got my shoes and if they could borrow them sometime. Right, so now I knew the lay of the land. This nannying post was going to take some manoeuvring.
More often than not, nannies will be responsible for a child who is challenging – in this instance Ted Jr. believed he was too old for a nanny and quite old enough to be independent. You have to put on a different hat if you want to have any relationship at all with children who have hit this bump in the road, but if you get it right, right from the start, they can often become a great help to you. It’s just a matter of how you approach them.
When I first began nannying, I was a bit lost as children in this age group were not very much younger than I was at the time. Sometimes it is hard to find the line to draw where you would like to be a friend but still hold the reins! Fortunately Ted Jr., in particular, was used to nannies and knew how the process worked, so instead of having to use a lot of strategies to try and win an unhappy teenager over, he was quite prepared to just go with the flow and I in turn gave him his space. In fact he would often help me with the younger ones and we became great friends and really that was the secret – friends.
Children know an enormous amount of stuff – much more than some carers give them credit for. Over the years I have found that the best way to treat children of all ages, is to consider the question, ‘How would I like to be looked after?’
The answer is simple for babies, toddlers, pre-schoolers and even primary school kids – very well and with lots of love and care – but don’t forget the teenagers. They need perhaps even more care and attention and more than anything, a nanny who is a friend they can trust and feel comfortable with while they continue to grow and all you hope is that one day if your paths happen to cross again, they smile and remember all the things you let them do for themselves.