Thursday, May 10, 2012

Lesson #5: The Medical Establishment Has Led Us Astray!

(And it's not what you think.)

OK, the toddler has a cold; and despite constant hand washing, Vitamin C, disinfectants and independent play, now you have a cold too.  The new goal is: Keep the Baby Healthy!!

So you continue to scrub your poor raw hands after every sneeze or used Boogie Wipe (yours or the toddler's).  Hand sanitizer is rubbed into every aching pore of those dry, chapped hands each time you pick up the baby.  No more snuggling on the couch or kisses on her head.  You even breathe in the opposite direction when holding her.  You take every precaution the medical industry recommends.

Despite it all, now the baby has a cold.  How on earth?!

Then it dawns on you.  As per common wisdom, you've been coughing into your elbow, rather than your hand.  Your hands have been getting washed every two minutes all day long . . . your elbow hasn't.  The same elbow you use to support the baby when you're holding her . . .

. . . Well darn.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Lesson #4: The World Is Full of Sadists

It all started with one dude - one charming individual who decided to make a huge profit from other people's sufferings. It caught on and now thousands of companies have followed in his footsteps, producing millions of obnoxious implements of torture. People from all walks of life are afflicted every day by these insidious products. And yet, they will gleefully turn around and buy one for some other poor, unsuspecting person and give it as a gift!

It's a cycle of human misery that seems never-ending! And we owe it all to the man who invented the electronic toy.

Thanks, Bud. Thanks for nothin'.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Lesson #1 Revisited

I felt it was important to do a quick follow-up post regarding the situation outlined in Lesson #1: Discipline Is Easy (Until It's Fun).

Miss Byrd finally took a step back and decided to actually listen to herself for a minute. The comfy Timeout chair was identified as the root of the problem. A square of masking tape was then placed in the middle of the hardwood floor - away from any and all furniture, toys, walls, and windows.

Timeout is no longer fun, and it's once again working.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Lesson #3: The Cure For Insomnia

I've learned things on the job besides discipline, believe me. Among them is the cure for insomnia. It was discovered quite by accident, and I'm positive that many generations of parents have discovered it before me; but allow me to present it to you anyway.

Quite simply, to cure your own insomnia, you must try to cure a baby's.

Now, chances are good that if you have a baby who happens to be an insomniac, you most likely have absolutely no trouble falling asleep at any time of day in whatever position you happen to be in when there's a lull in the activity. So this is for your friends who have trouble sleeping. Invite them over, charge them $50, give them your wide-awake child, and then go crawl into bed yourself. Be sure to provide them with the following:

1. a good rocking chair
2. a CD of lullabies on repeat
3. a noisemaker playing ocean sounds
4. a bottle or pacifier to provide rhythmic sucking
5. a warm sleep sac for the baby

If you leave them with the above items in a dimly lit room, it won't be long at all before your child has earned that fifty bucks.

Assuming you have lots of friends, and at least three quarters of them are insomniacs, you could make a fortune!

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Lesson #2: Tantrums Are Bad

(But not evil)

Returning to the small child who wanted Oreos, we can all see that tantrums are undesirable. They're indicative of poor discipline which results in all sorts of behavioral issues later in the child's life. Bottom line: tantrums must be stopped.

This does not, however, mean that parents (or nannies/babysitters) should bargain with the child in order to stop a particular tantrum. Don't treat the symptom; treat the cause. This is often the easiest and most entertaining disciplinary issue to deal with; it's also very rewarding as results can be seen within days of beginning treatment.

Step 1: Don't feed the tantrum.
When a child asks for something he wants and is refused, it results in a meltdown. Why? he wants to scare you or annoy you until you finally give in. Basically, he wants attention. What frustrates him more than anything else? A decided lack of attention from the authority figure he's targeting. I always find it amazing how many parents just can't see this. They feel the need to calm their child and distract him, when all they end up doing is creating a monster.

Let's look at an example from a different job Miss Byrd has survived.

Three year old Princess was the baby of the family and was given whatever her little heart desired. if her will was thwarted, a tantrum brought the desired results as she was known for throwing up when she got hysterical. Miss Byrd had been told this when she hired on, but felt sure it was a problem that could be addressed, despite the parental skepticism.

Within the first week of Miss Byrd's stay, little Princess came running up, asking for a bowl of Goldfish while Miss Byrd was preparing lunch. The request was refused on the grounds that lunch was about to be put on the table. Due to a scheduling fluke, both Mom and Dad were home just then, but getting ready to run some errands together. Seeing her opportunity, Princess ran to Mom and asked her for Goldfish. Not wanting to be circumvented so easily, Miss Byrd informed Mom that Princess had already been told no. Thankfully, Mom supported Miss Byrd's authority.

Cue the royal tantrum.

As Mom and Dad were putting on coats and rushing out the door, they were trying to bargain for peace, "We'll bring you a special prize. You want a KitKat? How about a Reese's cup? Calm down, sweetie, we'll bring you something." And out the door they went, leaving a screaming child and an exasperated nanny.

The moment they were gone, Miss Byrd put her royal highness on the stairs and told her to sit until she had calmed down and was ready to eat lunch. Then she cooked her own lunch and quietly sat down the enjoy it. But Princess had yet to play her trump card, and she knew it. (So did Miss Byrd.) The crying and sobbing reached a fever pitch and the gagging started. At this point Miss Byrd simply said, "If you throw up, you're in BIG TROUBLE." Then she went back to her lunch in silence.

Immediately, the sobbing slowed down and the hysterics gentled into just a normal crying fit. Soon Princess could breathe normally again, and was able to apologize for her behavior and settle in for a very cheerful lunch. She did not get any Goldfish; Miss Byrd never lost her patience; and Princess never threw another tantrum while in Miss Byrd's care.

The incident was reported in full to Mom and Dad, but they failed to see the moral of the story and continued to promise special prizes if Princess would only calm down. Miss Byrd learned very quickly to eat her dinner and flee to her basement quarters in the evening as there was a guaranteed tantrum at least once a night in the upper regions of the house.

Now, we've proven that tantrums are bad and easy to cure. But why do I insist they're not evil? Simply because they are sometimes a nanny's best friend.

I know, I know: example needed!

Miss Byrd's first day flying solo at her current job ran something like this:

Mid-morning Miss Byrd and both children were listening to music upstairs while Miss Byrd rocked Monkey and read books to Bug before heading back downstairs so that Monkey could have her next bottle. But books got boring quickly for the two year old, so he headed into the bathroom for some fun. It being early in the new job, Miss Byrd hadn't quite learned how far she could trust the little Bug, so she told him to come back out. He flat refused. So Miss Byrd had to go in and drag him out by the hand.

Cue the tantrum.

He screamed himself hoarse for at least ten minutes. In the midst of this, Chunky Monkey was supposed to be enjoying her mid-morning bottle and wasn't.

Cue the baby tantrum.

Suddenly, Miss Byrd had two screaming children on her hands. She completely ignored the two year old, but tried her best to calm the three month old, knowing that it was a lost cause as only food would make her quiet down. But going downstairs and leaving Bug unsupervised was forbidden by her contract. And so Miss Byrd settled in to ride out the squall, hoping that her boss wouldn't call to check up on the kids just yet.

Eventually, perseverance paid off and Bug figured out that he wasn't gaining anything by his hysterics. So he quieted down and agreed to go downstairs and play. Miss Byrd was able to feed the hungry baby and peace once again reigned supreme.

When naptime rolled around, Miss Byrd was able to tuck both kiddos into bed without a fuss. They were so worn out from their extended crying jag, that neither made a peep for three hours: a record that has yet to be broken in five months of employment.

And that was the day that Miss Byrd learned not to hate tantrums.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Lesson #1: Discipline is Easy!

(Until it's fun . . .)

You're standing in the cookie aisle at the grocery store when suddenly you hear it from down near the Oreos: "Mommy, I want those ones!" This is quickly followed by, "No, honey, not this time," and you cringe, waiting for what might come next; and sure enough, here it comes. "But I want Oreos!"

Before you know it, there's a screaming child and an embarrassed mother just a few feet away from you. Then, just as quickly, it's quiet again and two packages of Oreos have been hastily shoved into the buggy to bring back peace on earth and goodwill toward Mom. But the thought now running through every adult mind within earshot is: "Did she seriously just give that brat what he wanted?! I could have that kid straightened out in half a day!"

I think it's fairly safe to say that at least 90% of us have experienced something like this, and sworn that any child of our own will never behave like that in public. I know I have on numerous occasions. And once I became a nanny I started doing my homework to make absolutely sure I knew the ins and outs of discipline and would never have bratty children. I read books. I watched Supernanny. I talked to other moms. Most importantly, I observed both good and bad discipline in action on a daily basis and took notes for future reference.

Then, I got to practice. Current job being a prime example of my experiences, I shall use it to illustrate.

Miss Byrd starts a new job. Two year old Bee Bug has never had real discipline, but is a fairly well-behaved child despite that. He is beginning to be a bit of a handful, however, so Miss Byrd immediately discusses the proper use of Timeout with Bug's parents. They voice their approval and the training begins.

At first, Bug is shocked that someone has dared to thwart his will, and each Timeout is a battle of epic proportions. At last he learns that running away is futile, disobedience will be punished, and Miss Byrd means business. Timeout is working.

At the same time, he's learning that tantrums are ignored. (This is the easiest part of discipline.) Bug can be having a full-out fit with screaming and tears and flailing around on the floor, and Miss Byrd is across the room reading a book, or washing dishes, or playing with the baby. After a few weeks, his tantrums last all of five seconds, or fail to appear all together.

Yes, sirree, this discipline thing is easy peasy!

Then, suddenly, Bug discovers that he can thwart the system and make Timeout fun! Now Miss Byrd is grasping at straws, trying to make it work!! None of the books cover the issue. Supernanny never dealt with these kinds of mini masterminds. And other mothers say, "Spank 'em!" which is expressly forbidden by Miss Byrd's contract.

Timeout began on the entryway rug. . . . Ever heard the phrase: "snug as a bug in a rug?" Yeah. Apparently it's great fun to roll oneself up in a rug.

Timeout was therefore moved to a chair. Now Bug has learned that when he stands up in the chair and tries to climb over the back of it, Miss Byrd heads his direction and an awesome game ensues.

Other possible Timeout locations have been tried or considered and rejected one by one. Bug has learned that Timeout is no big deal and Miss Byrd has learned a valuable lesson: Discipline is easy . . . until it's fun.