Defining the working relationship with your nanny

Nannies and au pairs can be domestic dreams, household heroes and child whisperers but any relationship that involves living with a stranger can be fraught with difficulties. When you consider different cultures, a distance in ages in ages and homesickness it can easily be a disaster while you try to establish an equilibrium.

Whether it is your first live-in child care or the fifth, each nanny or au pair is different and can be frustrating in different ways. However by maintaining a few ground rules and structure while being understanding of their position and firm of your own, you can live in a household of harmony.

 

Clarity

When interviewing potential staff be upfront with them. Though the nanny agency would have vetted them, and given them some details about your family, clear and honest communication from the start will ensure that everybody is on the same page and working towards the same goal.

Listing all the duties expected of them, showing them where everything is and ensuring they are aware of the standard you anticipate, will make the first week intense but it will also give you a decent framework to build on and then negotiate if things do not go as well as planned.

Structure

While sticking to a routine week after week may seem impossible with modern living, it is important to ensure your child will be covered. A last minute announcement that the au pair is needed to babysit may be fine once in a while (though may cause some resentment) however if it is a regular occurrence it can cause similar problems.

The same is true for a nanny, while illness and family emergencies cannot be anticipated, social engagements should never be prioritised over their duties. If you give them notice of discrepancies in your schedule, they can do the same to nurture a relationship based on mutual respect.

Discipline

Everybody begins with the best of intentions, a new nanny, and a new regime. You may plan to restrict the television to half an hour a day, and never over meal times, or introduce a sugar free diet for the whole family, however the reality is often very different. Over time standards may slip, a sickly child can be coaxed with nothing but custard or fighting your child over his television time may seem impossible after a long day at work. Maintaining the standard of discipline that you expect from your au pair is not always easy however, you cannot let them always play bad cop.

Continuing to update your nanny on the standards you expect them to maintain, will not only ensure they are aligned with your own views, but will also make you aware of the times you fail to meet these standards. A consistent approach will not only make the children aware of the rules (that should not be bent) but also will help you nanny deal with any situation without any doubt.

Image Credit: Adina Voicu

Can robot nannies really replace the real thing?

Many of us dream of having a robot assistant that can supersonically complete the more mundane chores of daily life. Although technology is developing every year, this dream remains elusive – no dusting maids, no waiting butlers occupy the average household. However, an altogether more complex task usually reserved for caregivers and domestic staff may be delegated to our robotic companions in the near future.

According to recent reports, there is a new robot on the scene – the “robot nanny”, and it may soon be making its way into urban households. According to Mobile Mag, these affordable robots will be able to “bottle-feed babies, change diapers, and even iron the kids’ clothes.” Created by Avatar Mind, the new robot nanny is called iPal and is equipped with the mind (learning engine) of an adult but with the general conversational capacities of a four- to eight-year-old, allowing it to better relate to the child.

“The robot’s mind is also set to remember a child’s likes and dislikes and uses this knowledge to improve conversation”, says Mobile Mag. “Its super brain is also keen on always researching on the internet to learn more about topics that are interesting to the child.” Avatar Mind claim that not only is the robot created to take care of a child while handling minor tasks like ironing and folding  clothes, but is also able to replace the hours of digital entertainment many children are exposed to in the modern day.

But can robots really replace nannies?

In her article for The Week, Ruth Margolis emphasises that, although the idea of her children playing with an interactive robot rather than staring at a screen is appealing, it is important to remember that: “iPal is designed exclusively for the three-plus set and it’s a glorified toy rather than a robot sitter. You shouldn’t actually leave a child — of any age — in its care.” Agreeing with this sentiment, QZ says, “The robot essentially serves as a glorified baby monitor and that’s perhaps its most useful feature: it not only keeps children engaged, but gives parents the power to check on children remotely and even video chat with them through the tablet embedded in the iPal’s chest, which runs Android applications. In the future, the robot could provide a convenient lens for caregivers to look over children with special needs or the aging elderly population at times when they cannot be physically present.”

Despite its potentials, even Avatar Mind themselves insist that “it cannot replace a babysitter.” Madeline Duva, an adviser to the company, says that iPal ought to only be used to occupy a child for a brief period. Similarly, as QZ report, researchers from University of Lisbon have found that children need actual human role models to help them develop cultural values, master a sense of morality. No matter how sophisticated robots become, they cannot replicate the social values that a real human nanny will pass on to children in their care.

Mobile Mag points out that other experts are concerned that long-term exposure to robots instead of humans may cause some psychological effects on the child. They also ask:

“While that may seem like a good thing given that robot nannies don’t need to call in sick or ask for vacation leave, there are other important aspects to consider. How will iPal react if a fire breaks out? Can it squish poisonous spiders nearing the child? What will it do if the child is choking?”

These questions remain unanswered, so Mobile Mag suggests that, rather than investing in the risks of a robot, “it’s time to give your present human nanny a pay raise and better sick leave benefits.” If you are in need of household staff or nannies, remember that only human beings can truly understand your family’s unique needs and provide the human contact that children need to grow into fulfilled adults. A nanny agency will be able to find the perfect employee to not only fulfil all of the daily chores as efficiently as any computerised being, but also provide the empathy and bond that a growing family needs. We may be in the computer age, but there are some things that code cannot replace.

Norland Nannies, where are they now?

Nanny

After starring in the ITV documentary “Britain’s Poshest Nannies” in 2014, Norland College has become one of the most famous childcare colleges in the world. Following the journey of Set 36, a group of students learning the academic foundations and practical skills of becoming a prestigious nanny and preparing for high-end employment, the show was watched by millions of viewers who were intrigued by the traditional yet pioneering training these aspiring nannies received.

But, from deciding on the right family to join to searching for the perfect nanny agency to represent them, the Norland graduates had many challenges to take on after the series went off air. So, where are the Norland Nannies now?

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The rise of the male nanny

The rise of the male nanny

Female nannies have dominated the industry and it is almost tradition to employ a female for the role. However, now the male nanny, also known as ‘Manny’, is becoming a popular alternative for many, with celebrities such as Britney Spears and Gwyneth Paltrow enlisting the help of male individuals to take care of their children whilst away.

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Why your child will benefit from having a nanny

Parents that are unable to be at home to care for their children due to work or other commitments, will no doubt want the next best thing to themselves, which can be achieved using an experienced nanny agency in London. Not only will adults experience a number of advantages when hiring a nanny, but children will also reap the benefits, which are detailed below.

One-on-one care

In contrast to day care such as playgroups, your child will receive one-to-one attention, which can help with aspects such as learning. There are also other benefits to this, as your child will be kept under closer supervision and will be less likely to pick up illnesses as they’ll be exposed to fewer germs.

Less disruption

By choosing to employ a nanny, your child will remain in familiar surroundings, and can get to know the nanny on a personal level. Also, if you’re going to be late returning, a nanny will already be in your home, which means that your child won’t have to be disrupted and can be put to bed as part of their normal routine.

Milestone assistance

If you have a young child, a nanny can help encourage milestones such as walking, talking and potty training, which may not be priority for those working at a day care centre. This way, you’ll also be able to find out when these first milestones occur, which may be bypassed by those working in a hectic playgroup.

Image Credit: Nicholas Wang (Flickr.com)