Last week, I interviewed Nick Mitchell, one of a handful of male nannies in the UK, about how and why he chose a career looking after other people’s kids. This week, as promised, Nick shares his childcare advice and tips on everything from behaviour to eating to great days out.
If you’d like to contact Nick he has his own website, http://nannynick.com and also Tweets @nannynick
Reluctant Housedad: Do you have any favourite strategies for dealing with difficult behaviour e.g. temper tantrums; not eating; pinching/biting?
NannyNick: I go with the flow thus preventing many temper tantrums occurring as I am not needing to encourage a child to do something they don’t want to do that often. Sometimes a tantrum does occur and it can happen when we are out and about which will mean that we pack up and go home.
Children eat when they want to eat. I don’t feel a child will starve themselves. They will at times have a very select diet which may not be desirable. I like to give them some limited choices, so they can decide what to do, what to eat, all within some limitations… so you might give them we can go to X or Y. The older the child the more choices they can have, though with under 5′s I tend to keep it as 2 things to choose between or perhaps three. Siblings fight, a lot of the time it’s play fighting, so you need to stand back and observe what is happening… are the children playing, or is it becoming
bullying? Intentionally hurting others is discouraged.
RH: I’m going to have my three children (girl, 9; boys, 6 and 3) for the whole of the summer holidays and I’m dreading it. They have completely different needs and so are virtually impossible to keep happy all at the same time. Do you have any advice, insights, tips, specific things to do that would help achieve family harmony?
NN: My biggest tip is to get out of the house. Children often don’t like being cooped up, they like being outdoors and being able to run about and make noise. Summer is much easier than winter as the warm weather
lends itself well to spending most of the day outside, having a picnic lunch in the woods, at a park, or in the grounds of an historic house or castle. Each child may like to do different things, so I find woodland can be great as a child could look for bugs, another could be building a den, whilst another may be sitting on a log reading a book.
Where possible let the children, especially your older two decide what is you are doing each day, where you are going, what they want for lunch (they can even make lunch themselves). Some of our best outings have resulted from a child saying that they wanted to see something, to sit in something – for example one of the children wanted to sit in a helicopter, so I Googled and found a helicopter museum (Museum of Army Flying, Middle Wallop) and hoped that they had one which children could sit inside… they did. Would never have thought to go to that museum if I was the one coming up with places to visit. Continue reading