Guest Post: The case for male nannies

Guest writer Anne Harris is an HR specialist working for londongoverness.com. She recruits nannies, governesses and other childcare professionals, ensuring top-notch services for parents worldwide. In her free time she likes reading about education, and children’s welfare, as well as visiting sports events.

If you would like to contribute a guest post please send me a message!

Ask anyone: would you hire a male nanny?

(Stereo)typically, you might get two completely opposing responses: “Why not?”, or “No way”.

A mother asked this question on a forum- because her search to find her son a part-time “manny” position during the summer break was quite futile. She got a lot of emails, and while the discussion is really interesting, it came down to some common responses:

  1. Yes, I have an older active boy, and a male caregiver would be a perfect fit
  2. No, I have daughters, and I’m terrified of sexual predator

This is sexism at play. Women (and men) openly wonder why a man would want to deal with kids at all. It’s all rooted in a stereotype: men don’t belong near children and they don’t know how to handle them.

So, what are we teaching our kids?

“It’s a shame really, because how are we supposed to nurture our boys into being good fathers when the world is telling them they shouldn’t be near children?” one mom asked.

By the way, do you know that women show greater distrust towards male nurses or male beauticians, and also female pilots, mechanics, surgeons or bus drivers?

What Male Nannies can offer

  1. According to some theories of child development, children 3 to 6 years old go through a phase where they identify with people who they perceive share their gender. This would explain a rising demand for male nannies for preschool aged boys.
  2. Kids need role models of all genders, both boys and girls. There are often families where kids don’t have all these role models in the home and a nanny can provide another role model, of another gender.
  3. In some cases a male nanny will be more physically inclined in their play than a female nanny and may be better suited to children who prefer robust, physical games.

People who have hired male nannies report how their kids loved spending time with them as much as with their female nannies. It’s not gender-related, since the men who choose to nanny are, of course, also nurturing and caring.

Double-check

Safety is of utmost importance, no one wants to risk anything with either female or male caregivers. Instead, opt for agencies, such as this British governess agency, they go the extra mile to check their candidates.

You can stop expecting something terrible to happen- do the research and background check for ANY person that will come near your children.

It’s important to stay open-minded. Not all people fall into categories. Confirmation bias is strong, I know, but try to see the bigger picture.

If your child prefers or needs male energy, there are knowledgeable, qualified male caregivers out there who won’t turn your house and kids into a mess. Kids might as well enjoy them!

Qualities and qualifications

Anyway, what does a nanny do? A wide variety of tasks, including, but not limited to preparing meals, cleaning the house, carpooling, entertaining children, and of course, caring for infants and teaching them basic skills.

They have to love working with children of all ages, show integrity, be loving and caring, nurturing, warm and cheerful. But also alert and assertive. Attuned to their own emotions, and naturally open.

If you happen to have all these qualities as a person, and also have some qualifications and references, it really shouldn’t matter if they are a male or a female.

Nannies should just be good at what they do and kids have to love them. It’s that simple.

The bias is so strong that “mannies” have to prove themselves a lot more. And oftentimes, they are paid less.

They may be a minority, but a lot of them have a tutoring background or have a college qualification. As the owner of the Manny agency said: “They know how to have fun, and how to discipline when needed.”

He adds: “It feels strange writing the ways in which a male nanny can help a household, I didn’t even bother to add that a male can clean or that they know their way around a kitchen because it just seems insulting to everyone involved and should be a given”

Raise awareness

It’s important to discuss this issue of “cultural uneasiness” and raise awareness. We cannot act out of fear. We have to make informed decisions.

Men have the equal right to belong in childcare, it’s not exclusively a woman’s job. If men are fixed to macho jobs, we may conclude that women should be fixed to “feminine” jobs. And that is not something we want either!

As this brilliant article concludes: “For my part, I know I can’t control what my son thinks, but I can change what he sees, and I want him to see a world in which, yes, women and men can both hold high-paying executive jobs. But they can both teach preschool and babysit him, too. [Male babysitters] are awesome.”

  • Opt for a person who meets your child’s needs and fits your lifestyle, not for gender.
  • Don’t question whether a man is capable of loving and caring for an infant/ child, especially those that choose this to be their calling.
  • This is almost 2020. The reason this myth is still alive is not because it’s true, but because only a few people dare to question it.

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Why is my baby shaking their head from side to side?

You might be worried that your baby’s head shaking side to side means that something is wrong. You may even be worried this is an early sign of autism. But chances are this is a normal behaviour. If your baby is crying and head shaking many parents become concerned that their baby is sick, hurt, or autistic. But there are lots of good reasons your baby might shake their head from side to side. Even if your baby is crying, it is most likely nothing to worry about.

Does your baby shake their head from side to side while they are breastfeeding?

This is a common time to see a baby shake their head, sometimes they will also grunt and fret. This is the baby trying to latch and find the best position to feed. By moving their head side to side they can ensure they latch onto the nipple correctly. You can help them by encouraging them into the right position and by assisting them to attach well. A very hungry baby will often shake their head a lot while latching in their eagerness and frustration that the milk isn’t flowing yet. Very normal and nothing to worry about!

Does your baby shake their head from side to side while they are trying to go to sleep, or when you notice they are very tired?

Even very young babies can have self settling skills and this may be one of them. The shaking of the head may make baby slightly dizzy and help them fall asleep. It may feel comforting to feel the material rub against their cheeks. It may also be a sign of frustration that they cannot relax and fall asleep as they would like, especially if they are also crying. Very normal and nothing to worry about!

Does your baby sometimes shake their head from side to side when they are playing, or when they are interacting with you?

It’s fun to move your body isn’t it? Your baby doesn’t have a lot of control over their body so when they are having fun they may shake their head with excitement. They are practising new skills all the time and are testing out what their body can do – look I can turn my head to one side, and now I can turn it to the other side! You might notice this during tummy time in particular. If you are turning your head while playing with them they may try to imitate you, the earliest way they know how to communicate with you and join in with your activities. Very normal and nothing to worry about!

What if something is actually wrong?

There are a few reasons why a baby turning their head from side to side may be a cause for concern.

  • Ear Infection or other illness
  • Febrile Seizure
  • Rash/ itch
  • Autism

If your baby has an EAR INFECTION they may find the sensation of a blocked ear canal very uncomfortable. They may turn their head from side to side in an attempt to relieve the pressure or pain. If they feel unwell in general they may turn their head in frustration. If head turning is accompanied by a fever, fluid weeping from the ears, or any other concerning symptoms you might suspect an ear infection and should visit a doctor.

Sometimes if your baby has a sudden rise in temperature they may experience a FEBRILE SEIZURE or convulsion. While this is not uncommon or life threatening it can be very scary. In this instance your baby would not just shake their head, their entire body would go stiff and jerk and they may lose consciousness. Don’t panic! These kinds of seizures are not harmful and do not cause brain damage. Keep them on a soft surface and wait until it’s finished then seek medical attention from your GP or hospital to confirm your child is well and safe and to identify any underlying illness.

You may have noticed any redness or dryness or a rash on your baby, especially on their face, they may be turning their head from side to side in an attempt to itch. Young babies with limited control over their arms and hands will be particularly vulnerable to an itch they cannot scratch.Babies with parents who have ECZEMA or asthma or other allergies are more likely to have eczema and itchy skin themselves. Keep baby’s skin moisturised and watch for irritation. If you see a spreading rash take your baby to the doctor to rule out any illnesses.

When you see your baby shaking their head from side to side you may think of stimming and other repetitive behaviours that you’ve heard are sign of AUTISM. Head shaking on its own, however, is not usually a sign your child is autistic. So long as your child makes eye contact with you, smiles (if they are older than about 8 weeks), makes gestures such as pointing or waving and imitates you (if they are older than about 9 months) it is unlikely they are autistic and more likely they are displaying one of the very normal head shaking behaviours. If you are concerned your baby’s head shaking from side to side is excessive and/or you feel they are not meeting other milestones and not engaging with you by making eye contact, smiling or gesturing then you are wise to seek the advice of your doctor. Early diagnosis of autism is becoming more possible and early intervention can help an autistic child to thrive.

so….. should you be worried?

Probably not.

A baby shaking their head from side to is very normal and common. It’s usually a way for them to share something with you, to let you know they are hungry or tired or happy and excited. It is often fun for them and interesting to experiment with their bodies. It may be a way for them to tell you when they are uncomfortable and to try and communicate with you. Babies turn their heads from side to side for lots of reasons and most of the time it is nothing to worry about at all!

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Trash or Treasure? Too many toys?

Photo by LeMast on Foter.com / CC BY-ND

It’s hard rubbish time around here. If you don’t know how hard rubbish works, let me break it down for you...

  • Your local council warn you it’s coming soon. Your street is allocated a week when you can dump rubbish too big for the bin, leaving it outside your house.
  • You start to notice the rubbish being left in neighbouring streets looks amazing. You become a dangerous driver as you veer slightly off course trying to peer into the piles.
  • Every day you narrowly avoid coming home with an old broken bookcase, a possibly flea infested armchair, a washing machine that just might work. It’s really only the difficulty of lugging it that stops you, the desire to find a hidden gem languishing on the street is unremitting.
  • The smaller items begin to make it into your car and your home. An old tire (this could be an amazing addition to my kids outside play area!), a retro fan (I could sell this once it’s cleaned up!), a rocking horse (who gave away this beauty? It’s in much better condition than the one I gave away a few months ago!)……

But the real golden finds are the toys. Oh the toys that people throw away! I’ve rescued a farmyard, a Buzz Lightyear, assorted balls, the aforementioned rocking horse, and so many more. Why are these things being put out for hard rubbish? You know what happens to the hard rubbish? It’s crushed, destroyed, wasted. It’s meant to be sorted but I’ve watched the trucks crush much of what could be otherwise. Why are people putting perfectly good toys out for this treatment?

Do we have too many toys for our children? What do they learn from seeing their belongings cast aside so thoughtlessly? Or, for that matter, from receiving ‘new’ toys for no reason other than that some well meaning parent saved it from the bin?

While I can hardly resist the lure of the hard rubbish scavenger hunt, it did give me pause when another parent asked me if we shouldn’t be hoping these second hand toys went to those who needed them, not added to the coffers of children with too many toys already.

Giving away a glut of toys may be a step in the right direction for families overloaded with stuff that brings too little joy. But give away, not throw away, seems to be the real goal here. Perhaps parents assume, reasonably, that the toys will be found and rescued when left on the street. But perhaps donating them to charity shop would serve the purpose better.

Then our children can see the life cycle of their toys ending in a gift to those more in need, and not as a cast off that hopes to be found by anyone who passes by.

What have you found in your neighbours’ hard rubbish?

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#8. Top 10 things you don’t need for your baby.

Photo by mehul R parekh on Foter.com / CC BY-SA

No sooner have you brought your bundle home than the months start flying by and before you know it, it’s time to start solid food. You inevitably begin to think about where your tot will sit and turn your eye towards the multitude of high chair options. But 9 out of 10 are complete overkill and some could even be dangerous. Keep it simple.

#8 Thing you’d be wasting your money on: A huge fancy padded high chair.

Like so much baby gear, the highchair is a good idea gone rogue. Yes, your baby needs to sit up to eat. In fact if they can’t sit up well they are not ready for solids yet. And yes it’s convenient they sit up at table height. And, of course, they need some straps and such to keep them safe. But what they do not need, and what you will regret having to clean, is a highchair built roughly the size and shape of a spaceship, with all the complications and a price tag to match.
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Guest Post: 6 Tips for Choosing Childcare

This week’s guest post is from Nelli Hooper, founder of  York Enrichment Childcare Centre in  Richmond Hill, Ontario, Canada.

If you would like to contribute a guest post please send me a message!

One of the biggest decisions parents face is in choosing the right group childcare facility for their children. It’s hard to send your young kids to another place every day, but it is easier if it’s a place that feels like home. Here are some things you can do to make sure you make the right choice.

photo credit: massdistraction / Foter / Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Don’t Wait

When looking at childcare, it’s never too early to begin. If you have a specific place or are looking at a reputable, exclusive facility, you may have to sign up months in advance. You want to know at what age they begin accepting children so you can plan your time off. The best childcare centres are usually full with only occasional openings when children graduate.

Consider Accreditation

Not all childcare centres are accredited, but many seek that status to add to their reputation with parents. A centre that is accredited has met the requirements and follows the standards and guidelines that have been put in place. In addition, it shows you that they take their centre seriously. You can contact a state agency to find out which ones are licensed and accredited.

Schedule a Tour

You will want to see the centre before you make your decision to give you an idea about where your child will be staying. You should get to see the first room they will be in and meet the caregivers. They should show you around the room and even give you an idea of the schedule your child will have. This can help you feel more comfortable leaving your child in a strange place when the time comes.

This is also your time to inspect the place. Look for cleanliness and organisation. While any place with young kids is bound to have some chaos, it should be kept to a minimum. Are kids taught to line up and take turns? You can often see this even on a walk-thru of the facility as the kids are engaged in their normal activities. Caregivers and teachers should always be actively involved with the kids.

Ask Questions

Before you take a tour, you should prepare a list of questions that you want to ask. Some of them may be for the director while others will be for the teacher.

  1. What is the ratio of teachers to children?
  2. How many children will be in your child’s class?
  3. What training and certification have the teachers had?
  4. Is there a lot of turnover?
  5. Do the children have a schedule?
  6. How is discipline handled?
  7. Are there opportunities for parents to talk to teachers?
  8. How do you handle special situations such as food allergies and special requirements?

Ask About Parent Visits

Find out if the childcare facility allows parents to visit their children. They may require pre-planned visits while some may be more laid back and allow you to drop in. However, all centres should encourage parents to stop by at appropriate times. Some examples include on holidays, for classroom parties, or even for breakfast or at snack time. These visits allow you to see how your child handles the childcare setting on a daily basis.

Ask Around

Find out from friends and other parents what they think of certain childcare centres. They will tell you the good and bad about where they send their kids. You can also ask other people that work with kids. Library personnel, paediatricians, church teachers, and others can provide valuable insight on the best places to send your child.

Take the time to learn about the childcare centre where you plan to send your child. Since they spend the majority of their days in this place, it should provide them the stability and love that they need to grow and develop into happy, healthy kids.

Nelli Hooper is the proud owner of York Enrichment Childcare Centre located in Richmond Hill, Ontario.  Her program has an excellent facility and is setting the standard for childcare within York Region.  Please visit her website at http//www.yeccdaycare.ca to learn more about childcare and how it can benefit your child.  

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