Summer Holidays

We have a little over 3 weeks of summer holidays left here in UK and I thought now is the time for me to start putting my thoughts back on the paper (or computer – but you know what I mean!). 

I assume there is two camps of childcarers and parents out there. One camp is patiently waiting for school to start and the other one is dreading the school runs and rush. I get it! At this point the routine (or what is left of it) has evaporated with the heat wave Europe has the pleasure to experience and you might be feeling a little done and tired. Maybe the kids are not behaving as ‘great’ as the usually do, and you are wondering weather you can manage to survive the last weeks with grace and dignity, while also having lots of fun. I am here to assure you that you can and also give you a few helpful hints if you need them. 

When I find myself overwhelmed with work, children, anything (and I do, just like everyone else!) I tend to go back to basics. Maybe even have a tiny little meltdown, than I brush myself off and start thinking of things that helped In the past. And just as we get overwhelmed at times, children get overwhelmed with a lot of things. There is so much happening around them, and as they are not equipped with tools to identify feelings and process them in the most gracious way, they simply overflow their cup daily, and the spillage is seen as a tantrum, scream, slap, pinch…just to name a few. 

Now, we as adults know, that most of the time, when children act out, is usually because their basic needs are not met. They act in a way that they think will get their basic needs met, and if that does not happen, they try another way (and boy they are pretty resourceful ha?). The way adults try to correct children’s behaviour is to act when negative behaviour presents, which might work for some time, but sooner or later negative behaviour will still continue, you feel stuck, tired and overwhelmed with constant warnings. Sometimes behaviour even gets worse. That is when you have to draw a line and start over. 

So if you find yourself drawing a line and having a little ‘enough is enough’ moment, here is a few tips you might like to try out. 

  1. Plan a day or morning or hour with just you and the kids, without any other distractions, no playdate, playgroup, class etc. Take the kids to the park and just play with them, forget about preparing flawless organic snacks and just sit down with them, talk to them, listen to them, hug them, be silly and see what happens. 
  1. Praise the good behaviour – it pays off! Children need a lot of instant feedback, praise when it happens not two days later.
  1. Make them your little helpers – if you cannot get them to do their chores, promote them to your assistant, and don’t get upset if they spill a little water when they bring the cup from the table.
  1. Relax! Yes it is absolutely essential that the kids are safe, fed and thriving, but they will not remember if their toys where all tidy and in right boxes, if the clothes were matching and what you ate. What they will remember is, how much you hug them, how they felt around you, how much bugs they saw on the garden on how much they made you jump every time they showed you a spider!
  1. Read a book with them (any will do) and cuddle on the sofa. The book by Carol Mccloud is absolutely a winner when you need to reinstall some positive behaviour. I think it is absolutely genius to present the idea of filling people’s buckets when we are kind, do something nice and taking away from them when we are not. It is not complicated and very easy for children to imagine the whole thing.

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At the end of the day the thing we all agree upon is, giving children a childhood that will give them wings and teach them how to fly them. It doesn’t make a difference if you are a parent, Nanny, Manny, childcarer, Teacher, those goals are the same. 

Hope you will enjoy the rest of the summer, and if you are starting or already started school, have a great start!

Sharing is caring,

TLN

HOW TO PRACTICE GRATITUDE WITH KIDS

 

We live in a day and age where we have an overwhelming amount of things. Sometimes it’s super hard to be grateful for what you have, and be grateful for the things someone does for you rather than buys for you. For tiny humans that is just the same, especially after December when they usually get an enormous amount of things that they don’t even know what to do with.

I get it, I love buying presents for loved ones, but I’ve come to realise over the years that the most important thing is my relationship with the person, I want to give a gift to, and my time with them, no present can substitute that. So, I wanted to write down a few ways we can practice gratitude on a daily basis with children. It does matter what we instil in their little minds from early on, what patterns we shape, so I think this will be a good thing to do all year around, but especially around and after holidays.

 

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The Gratitude Game

The game needs ideally three or more players and one person to serve as a timekeeper. Have everyone sit in a circle with one person starting off saying, “I am grateful for [fill in the blank].” That person has five seconds to come up with something for which they are thankful, whether it be their favourite stuffed animal, food or activity. As soon as the first person finishes, the person to the left goes. “The key is to say what you are grateful for without repeating, and without pausing for more than five seconds,” by Lennay Chapman.

Goodnight Gratitude

Every night before or after bedtime story we can say what we are grateful for. This makes for a nice finish to the day and leaves us feeling good and happy.

Be Thankful for Others’ Hard Work

Teaching your children to be thankful for the hard work everyone put into making the life easier and happier for us is crucial to raising unspoiled children. No matter how many staff you have at home teaching children to appreciate what everyone does for them is just right.

Random Acts of kindness

Being nice and kind in never overrated. Teaching by example and letting children know that just doing a small thing like helping an older lady with the groceries or picking something someone lost and give it to them can make their whole day and change the world for better. That might sound silly but that is exactly how we start, with small things in our community.

Say Thank you and Mean It

We throw thank you around a lot, but do we really mean it? Maybe say thank you less but when you do, really mean it. When we teach children to say thank you, let them say it in a full sentence like: ‘Thank you daddy for repairing this for me’. That way ‘thank you’ is not just a word, but a mean to let someone know they appreciate them.

Think of Others

Do small things/surprises for your loved ones, like buy their favourite fruit, make a card, make the bed or clean the office and involve kids in it. Ask them what they think would make someone happy.

 

 

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There is really many many ways we can practice gratitude with kids and create a happy life. I hope this will give you some ideas and bring you joy while doing it. I would love to hear how are you practising gratitude? Let me know in the comments!

The Lovely Nanny xx

 

P.S. I originally wrote this blog post for blog of a lovely Nanny from Australia that live and works in London.

How to be a great NANNY

I’m so happy to be able to collaborate with my fellow Nanny. I had the privilege to write a blog post for The Australian Nanny that she posted on her blog which you can read here. 

I wrote about how to practice gratitude with kiddos, and if you need an inspiration go check it out!

This post is all her, writing about what it makes a great nanny. I think you will like it!

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What makes a great Nanny?

There really is no other profession quite like being a Nanny. I was out for drinks with some friends last week and someone said to me “I don’t think I could be a Nanny. The emotional investment that you have in your job is so incredible”. Now, this wasn’t just some random dude at the bar who lives at home with his parents and hasn’t worked anywhere but Subway since finishing high school, this was a friend of mine who is a successful writer and journalist. It felt so validating to hear those words from him, and it also got me thinking: what makes a great Nanny?

At the crux of our profession is working for a family unit. We are there to assist a family in living. Nannies are trusted individuals who care for children, manage comings and goings of the household, take responsibility for the home and assist in keeping the space clean. Oh my God, and then there’s the washing. Dishes, clothes, toys, children, it feels like everything needs washing constantly. Bloody hell, we do a lot. I’m a bit tired just reading this.

I have no doubt that we are all, or try very hard to be, good Nannies. So, what separates a good Nanny from a great Nanny?

Here’s what I think:

-Adaptability. I think that a great Nanny will take adversity and change in her/his stride. She or he will remain a pillar of stability through anything that gets thrown their way. This could be anything from no milk in the fridge so you have to make your kiddos something different for breakfast, to a family emergency that requires you to carpool the entire squad to the hospital.

-Flexibility. Not just the physical kind. Although that is also good too. No two days as a Nanny are the same, kids get ill and have ‘off days’ (i.e. tantrums over Barbie’s shoe falling down the drain), parents have last minute meetings and the weather always has a mind of its own. Somehow it always seems to rain on the day you planned to go to the zoo… A great Nanny will say ‘stuff you’ (silently, of course) to things that get in her way and will be as flexible as a yoga instructor fresh out of training.

-Understanding. Families are weird and crazy and eccentric. Everyone has some weird things that they do and as someone who is employed to operate as a member of the family team a great Nanny needs to embrace this. If the family you work for only eats purple carrots and hemp seeds and does a naked rain dance before bed every night, just go with it. As long as it’s not physically or psychologically harming the children, it’s your job to support whatever life choices they’ve made.

There you have it folks. That’s what I think makes a great Nanny. I wonder if you feel the same or if you have some extras you’d add to the list?

SO much love to The Lovely Nanny for having me feature on her blog!

The Australian Nanny
P.s if you liked this blog post, there’s more where that came from over at theaustraliannanny.com

HOLIDAY WREATH

We are being a tad creative in this holiday season and It’s just so nice! I wanted to share with you our lates creation.

⭐️ This is an advanced craft you can do with a slightly older child (4 years +). It is activity that slowly evolves to the finished product. We had been gathering material on our walks, talking about what are we going to make, talking about the colours, the shapes and things we are going to use. Even though every step in not possible to be done by a small child (hot glue gun) is it still great to involve them in all the steps and explain what we are doing and let them do as much as possible (like choosing pinecones you will then glue on the circle and so on – could also practising counting -how many pinecones do we need to fill out the circle…). ⭐️

 

Have a look at these lovely pictures!

 

 

First we cut a circle from recycled carton (try and use what you have at home, every one have a used box or two-we all love amazon am I right!). Use a plate to do a circle or something else, depending on how big of the circle you want. Use hot glue gun to make everything easier, but never leave it unattended with tiny humans around. Then really, just as you wish, start placing pinecones around the circle and make a wreath (make it a fun activity even though you’ll be the one to glue them on) 👆🏽

 

 

Next we have previously picked this little bananas (as we like to call them) and some other nice tiny branches and we just sticked them around to fill the gaps and make it even more festive. I found these jingle bells in shop called Flying Tiger and thought they would be perfect to put around the wreath as little one love the 🌈 colours. Together we have put them around and I just love the whole look! Doing the crafts like that is a great opportunity to also sing some festive songs (or any songs) and make the experience super christmasy! Our favourite songs to listen are from Super simple songs creators –  do you know them?

 

 

We added the last touch with some pink glitter. Mixing white glue and glitter together I let the tiny one do all the work. This completed our wreath and we were both very pleased with our lovely holiday wreath! Last thing we will do is just out some ribbon or string and hang it on the kids bedroom door.

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What crafts are you making this season? Let us know in the comments below! We would love to hear all about it!

As always sharing is caring 😉❤️

The Lovely Nanny xx

Nanny Survival Guide

Nannying is one of the most wonderful jobs you can have. But it’s also one of more demanding ones, and if you don’t take care of yourself, sooner or later you will burn out.  I did, it wasn’t great, and this is what I learn since.

1. You are as important as the family you look after

Your life, plans and commitments are as real as your bosses. Make sure they know that from the beginning. When you take time off, try to really switch off, so you can come back fresh and recharged.

2. Socialise!

Find friends, other Nannies, which you can rely on, and can make playdates with or coffee dates. Nannying can be such a lonely job, it’s nice to have other grown ups to talk to.

 

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Copyright: The Lovely Nanny

 

 

3. Stay healthy, exercise, meditate

Eat good, heathy food, drink a lot of water and take vitamins. We all know how hard it is to drink enough throughout the day, because most days, you can’t use toilet more than once, and even than a child will be sitting next to you. Exercise is so important if you want to keep up with the little ones, but also, it helps you fight every virus that is coming to get you. I recommend pilates or yoga, as when you work 7-7 with screaming tiny humans, an hour of meditation does wonders. But really, whatever gets you going!

4. Learn to say NO

When you feel overworked, learn to say no. It is hard, but for your own sake, you will have to learn it. Learn to say no, if you already made plans and they ask you for babysitting, do another house chore or working an extra day on the weekend. But also say yes, when you can. It is nice to help out when you are able to. The right family will always appreciate that.

5. Communicate with your bosses

Learn to talk to your bosses even about the difficult stuff. About money, children’s behaviour, holidays, time off and all subjects that normally give you bad anxiety.

6. Stand up for yourself

You are your own lawyer, HR, social worker, cheer squad and support group. You are a grown up, professional who knows what to do in her job, that is why you have been hired – now act like it! When you feel something is not quite right, think about it and than try to come up with a reasonable solution, to present to your bosses. But always stand up for yourself, because if you won’t, no one will!

 

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Copyright: The Lovely Nanny

 

Now I will not say all that is equally easy for every one, but in order to stay healthy and sane, you will have to look after yourself. We all have a certain idea of how the job should be done, but don’t overwork yourself. It’s so easy and so not worth it. Every sane family will want you happy and healthy.

Please let me know what are your top survival tips down in the comments!

As always sharing is caring!

The Lovely Nanny xx

 

SPAGHETTI SENSORY PLAY

”In play experiences, combining the sense of touch with the senses of vision, hearing, taste and smell helps build cognitive skills’

I’m stealing this brilliant idea from my fellow Nanny who is also a good friend of mine. We actually did this together once and I must say the kids loved it! So I would love to share it with you! It is super easy to make, but provides a lot of joy! It is a wonderful idea when you need a quick entertainment or a long play session.

👉🏼 This sensory play can also be super helpful when a child is particularly fussy with eating foods with a wet texture such as spaghetti. The use of sensory play can assist the child in touching, smelling and playing with the texture in an environment with little expectation.

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But first I would just like to quickly touch on why sensory play is good.

  • Sensory play helps to build nerve connections in the brain.
  • Sensory activities prompt children to use scientific processes while they play.
  • It is proven that engaging a child’s senses while presenting them with a learning task helps them to retain the information and fully comprehend it.
  • Sensory play is therapeutic on an emotional level and helps to calm and soothe children during difficult times or before bed.
  • Sensory play facilitates language development, problem solving skills, cognitive function, and fine and gross motor skills.
  • Playing with sensory materials helps children to develop their creative process.

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”Cognitive skills are those skills we use when we solve problems and create novel ideas from current ideas.”

Cook spaghetti as it says on the package. Than divide them into as many bags as you have colours. We did three this time, but you can get super creative. Than tip a few drops od dye into the bag (depending on how strong you want the colour to be) and a few drops of vegetable oil. Than mix them together to spread the colour all over spaghetti.

TIP: Leave the coloured spaghetti to dry if you don’t want the colours to stain your hands!

After that, it’s just fun! Use some forks, food tweezers, little figures, little cars, cups different sizes…

FUN FACT: Did you know that ZINC helps maintain healthy cognitive development? You can read a little more about it in this article here!

As always, sharing is caring!

The Lovely Nanny xx

Nanny Job

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Hi there!

I’ve been busy lately, and have been lacking on this blog, which I love, and I actually started, to write real things about childcare in general. There is so many aspects of THE JOB, whether you are a Nanny, Childminder, Early years teacher or something else, but the core is the same. This has been on my mind quite a lot recently, and it would be interesting to see whether you have any comments on the topic.

I’m an Early years teacher by degree, but I have been a Nanny for a while now. So I will mainly focus on what it is like to be a Nanny ( superpower human who is trying to rise tiny humans as the best versions of themselves).

I’m so surprised how so many times when I say I’m a Nanny, a lot of people will say “Oh you’re a babysitter?” or ” How nice you can play with children for your job” and other degrading comments. I often find defending myself with saying “I do have a degree in Early years education” like if being a Nanny is something everyone can do, and I’m just doing it because I don’t want to have a ‘serious’ job. I wish more people would understand what really do I do every single day at my job. It is certainly true, mostly anyone can be a Nanny, but it takes a special kind of magic to collide and become ” The Lovely Nanny “.

This post might be a wee long, but I’m really passionate about what I do, and this is what I think every Nanny should be or do.

  • provide the environment where children feel safe (physically and emotionally)
  • respecting the tiny humans
  • listening to them
  • hug them
  • making sure they are happy, carefree and healthy
  • be a good example
  • make sure children have healthy and nutritious meals
  • nurture a good relationship with parents and respect their parenting
  • let them be active
  • teach them to have confidence in their own abilities
  • help them develop respect for others and themselves
  • be educator and career
  • tell them you love them
  • ability to asses the development of each child
  • plan age appropriate activities
  • help them develop social skills and learn how to manage their feelings
  • be a multitasker
  • providing opportunities to learn and explore on daily basis
  • read them every day
  • know every child is unique
  • sit on the floor a play with them
  • be very familiar with curriculum (whether you work in public or private sector)
  • help them think critically
  • honour their ideas
  • teaching them responsibilities and consequences
  • be patient, kind and generous with her time

While every day making sure toys are organised and cleaned regularly, clothes are organised by size and washed, bedrooms are tidy, diaries updated and filled in, meals cooked, parents updated on every new achievement and play area and kitchen cleared  by  the end of the day.

Being a Nanny is one of the best jobs in the whole world. As working with children with not only give you a lot of satisfaction but will also challenge you to be a better human yourself. Seeing the whole undamaged potential in a small person is a huge responsibility that you can’t take lightly.

Being a Nanny is one step further from being a parent during the day,  and saying goodnight at the end. Being a Nanny is having your heart filled with love, every time you catch a cheeky smile. It’s also explaining WHY, and being patient when putting on shoes. It’s also the times when you have to say no 34 times and be consistent while doing 10 other things. It’s running in parks, and going down slides, it’s saying well done, and giving high 5. Being a Nanny means never to cross the street on the red light and go out during the week, but it also means I get cuddles every day and ‘I’ll miss you’ when I leave for the weekend. And if you’re really lucky you can see them grow up.

Let’s be honest. Most of the days you will probably need some paracetamol, lots of coffee, waterproof shoes, glitter, sun cream, vitamins, phone with really good internet, some chocolate and the will of steel.

And some days will be all rainbows and butterfly’s.

Until next time,

The Lovely Nanny xx

 

HOW TO plan activities in 4 steps

Planning activities can be stressful, takes time and sometimes we get lost in what we can do with tiny humans to keep them entertained. Planned activities will ensure children learn and have fun, while also meeting their development milestones. It really does not have to be that hard.

If you go by this rule you can make up an activity on the spot. Let see how it goes.

PICK A THEME and do as follows:

     1.STEP: MOTIVATION

It happens before the activity and it is something that will spark an interest

2. STEP: PREPARATION

After motivation, actual preparation for activity, where you increase the interest in topic

3. STEP: MAIN ACTIVITY

The main event! 🙂

4. STEP: REFLECTION

After the activity you do a small activity to reflect on what you experienced

 

So for example if you would like to teach your tiny humans about profession: FIREFIGHTERS (as I have wrote before on my Instagram profile) you can go like that:

  1. playing with toys, watching a youtube video
  2. going for a walk, noticing things around you (especially in big cities)
  3. going to the local fire station, having a tour around
  4. after the trip to fire station, you can paint with water colours what have you seen, experienced

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I would always recommend that you do activities that are interesting to your tiny humans (if they have a special interest, like space, you can source activities from that and around that. Like learning colours ~ you can learn in through planets.

If you would like, I can put up a few more examples? Please do let me know in the comments down below what do you think about the activity steps, if they helped you, or how do you plan your activities?

Until next time,

The Lovely Nanny xx

 

Let’s wrap this up

I thought this would be an appropriate first post, as it is very light and creative topic. I will get to more challenging question about early years, later.

So If you’re giving a gift for Mothers day, birthday, anniversary or basically any occasion that requires you wrap things up, this might be something you want to read.

I would do this activity with children from 1 year old, depending on their interest in art, and eating water colours. Needless to say you would be better off doing it one on one, so you can manage the steps and let tiny humans do the art themselves as much as they can.

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Preparing everything in advance will set you off for a good start and, let’s be honest, the smaller the children, the preparation will take way longer than the actuall activity. But that is okay, don’t be put of by that. As long as tiny humans are trying new things, and having fun in the process, that is a big win for you.

You will need:

~ Larger pieces of paper

~ Water colours

~ Potato

~ Knife

~ Smaller plastic containers or paper plates

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Depending on the age of a child you can prepare everything on the floor for younger ones and on the table for older ones. But really, do it as you normally do, it is better to prepare it in the usual environment because the activity will already be new. Children will therefore concentrate on the activity rather than get distracted with the whole new environment.

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Cut the potato in different shapes. Triangle, circle and square would be perfect for learning first basic shapes. For children to learn a new shape, it is better to start with two options, and than continue with 4 or more. Repeating the name of the shape often like: ‘Would you like to use a circle?’ and pass them the potato with circle shape. And so on, I’m sure you get the picture. You would do the same with colours. Use 3 primary colours (red, blue, yellow) and when they acquire them, you can include secondary colours (purple, green, orange).

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Have fun with stamping coloured shapes on the paper, don’t worry if they smudge them, if they paint themselves a little, as long as they are enjoying the activity and make happy faces, I would say you did well! Please do leave comments if you try the activity or have any questions.

I’m very happy to welcome you on my blog where magic never ends and hope you’ll stick around to catch some for yourself.

The Lovely Nanny xx