Updated: Nov 6, 2019
A friend asked me yesterday who has an older one, whats is the best bit of knowledge you have from nannying. What will you use for your wee one and I realised two things , one - there are a few nuggets I am most proud of and two this blog has been for the most part about my wee one but I have years of experience with all ages and someone who reads this , may find it useful. Ps thank you for reading this and I know that someone has said , oh if only had known that before etc. So I will share my useful bits of childcare kit I picked up along the way.
Bag of Manners
I was seeing my old charges when I was in London recently, they are 6 - 16-17 and I have been in their lives since birth and will continue to do so, if not from afar now. But the one things that the parents both said too me was how all of their kids and them, get compliments on how well mannered they are. I have always been a stickler for manners. They are easy to use, remember and apply and they really do get you and your child a long way. As in invited back and in this day and age where lives are so busy , you need to have playdates and coffee groups to have some adult conversation and shared play time for your children. So from very early on I have my kids have a bag of manners. We imagine that they take it with them everywhere they go and as we are leaving the house they pack it according to what they are doing. For example , playdate , please and thank you , may I and thank you ( again ) for having me. I always say please if you want some thing , thank you when you get it. May I ... have what ever, or get down from table and thank you for having me. These are the staples. You can have a compliment to the cook. Or a can I have that toy when your finished. ( I don't make kids share, why should you hand over what you have just cos someone else wants it, you as an adult won't. But you would and I teach my kids too, to let them have it when you are finished ). I have found that if I can teach my wee ones the basics they then continue them into adult life, always good for school interview, job interview and just everyday life.
You may think this is bubbles that you blow and it is in a way , as I feel bubbles can cure you of anything as they entertain kids and ones in a bath alone with a good book and a glass of something especially one with bubbles of its own always helps Mummies. But no this is about imaginary bubbles as such, When children are learning to communicate sometimes they can't contain what they are feeling and it comes out in weird ways. They don't have the language to explain their emotions so they kinda fizz. Some times if you don't catch this fizz, it can go one of two ways , over excited or over dramatic and they misbehave as such. Getting both child and parent frustrated, as child isn't able to convey how the are feeling and parent misses the signs and everyone ends up in a bad mood. So when they are little but understand what you are saying , I give them bubble time. I put on the timer 5 mins etc and we run around the kitchen like maniacs , or stamp out feet or yell, what ever they need, sometimes I don't even need to lead. Or I say yes to everything they want just for 5 minutes ( trust me sometimes it feels so good to just say yes once in a while ) The the bubble pops when the timer goes off and we resume what ever we were doing.
As they get older I found the bubble was a great release for them . They can say anything , no judgements , no comments, just listen. For example one serious and one funny. My niece was annoyed at her mother for forgetting a snack after school as she was busy with two younger boys , my niece would have low blood sugar and mother and daughter would get in to an argument in the playgroup getting neither anywhere, as in my sister was embarrassed by her daughter yelling at her , distracted by smaller ones and daughter hungry. I suggested as I had used bubble method ( I'm coining the term here and now ....) for my sister to hear her daughter, wee one of 5 was able to say , in a quiet moment that she was disappointed, angry and frustrated at lack of acknowledgement and food. She put it in 5 year old language but that was the gist. My sister able to listen to daughter rectified situation and for 6 years now they have had this bubble thing going so each child can have their 5 mins.
The funny incident, was with my charges who I started the bubble with in the first place many moons ago. Wee boy used to have alot of pent up energy as wee boys do after school and needed an outlet before settling down. They are told to sit still and be quiet all the day at school. So thats where it started but I digress, said wee boy like to learn swear words and was under strict instructions not to say them out loud, (bad words) and especially in front of his younger sister. So he asked for a bubble to say the word over and over , in 5 mins, get out of system and pop the bubble and its over. This word was shit. So he sang this for about 3 mins, then realised all the ways he could say it in a sentence after he had asked me what it meant, I said poo, for the next two minutes he inserted his word for poo in to every situation he could and even a new rendition of Winnie the Pooh song,,,, you get the gist! But it was a funny and clever way to allow him to be free just for a minute from all the rules. I have used it with all my kids. Some need a bubble to say they are unset, happy , frustrated, even that they were being picked on in school. To have a chance to be heard. Like a code word for them to know its a safe space for you to listen even if they bitching about you. I would acknowledge what they have said, maybe even sometimes change my mind on something if they had presented a good case on ( and it will happen that kids can see a way through or path we as adults miss in the chaos of daily life ) But we would pop the bubble and move on with daily life. It has lead to my kids then, being teenagers now to still having an open line of communication with me and their parents. And thats they best way to be a parent , you are not their friend but you can definitely listen, with teenagers, we as parents are desperate for them to talk to us, as we can help , even to say , this is normal standard operating procedure and it does get better. Trust me I have three teens now. They just as they did when they were little , want to be heard.
Stickers in shoes,
Learning left and right can be hard , heck I still have think about it, and do the L in my hand for left. But I suggested to a friend the other day, now her daughter wants to dress herself , she let her daughter choose a large sticker, cut in in two and pop in shoes, match the sticker , shoes on correct feet. On that note , give in to wardrobe choices that they make, so what if you both go out with a fairy dress on and wings or she wears her pj's to school and swimming. And that nothing goes. Its their style and they are expressing them selves. It passes and they get shoved in to conformity in school uniform and peer pressure so fast these days a bit of individuality is great !
I had a printer and a lamentation machine. I printed out and covered the house with names of things. Kids learn to read easily when they already know th e shape of something. and can associate it with a physical thing. I had this happen in my primary school , reading test, could not for the life of me read emergency on the page, the teacher pointed it out over the door in red knew exactly what it said. So I stick names to common things, toaster, fridge, cupboard etc. They read it, repeat it, remember it .
When ever changing out something be it lunch box, swim bag , have a spare and put it in straight away , like 2nd pairs of googles, and swim cap etc. Lunch box put in what you can straight away. Life gets busy and if you get in to routine of something then you don't have to worry about it later
Imprint on something, get multiple.
There is nothing like hunting for the blanket ,teddy , sheep skin lost in a carpark for hours ( my sisters cuddly ) or at bed time. If your child chooses something get a spare immediately ! Even if it sits in a cupboard because you are lucky enough that its not lost somewhere , you are prepared and now warned .
Box of tricks
This can be for home and especially when out , always take a snack , that goes with out saying , but stuff to do. Small packs of cards, travel toys and puzzles , games, crayon and paper. But for home have a craft box at least. Fill it from the pound store with stickers and pens, crayons and paper ( preferably recycled as in old bills mis prints etc and junk mail etc ) google eyes are fun and feathers. Rainy days are common and kids need stimulation, they get to open box and instant imagination.
Friday treat jar or box,
Its nice to give them a treat , I had chocolate Fridays. Little packs of sweets and or yummy things that they can choose.
Drinks and snacks
healthy ones always in reach and most importantly on eye level for your child. They see it they want it, so have fruit, healthy bars little things they can have with out asking in a basket, also a drink bottle on their level that is always filled and non spill. Then they don't have to ask for a drink, food etcGives them choices with in your boundaries and them independence to make the right choices ( wink wink nudge nudge)
I had a list of things I wanted my wee one to achieve on her own and when she did she got a pompom in the jar she had to reach a set number to have chocolate Friday. These pompoms could go in and they could come out. Things on list were bag of manners at home and out, teeth brushing, putting clothes in hamper etc. It was a wonderful incentive to be independent and to be in charge of herself. All toddlers and older seem to rebel against authority funnily enough. This helps to divert tantrums and power plays, I have found.
If I think of any more as my brain reaches in to the mists of my other life , I will add to these. But hopefully some of these help or you can use with your wee ones in the future.