There is often belief in the myth that there is such a thing as the perfect parent. I feel that there is a lot of pressure on parents today to strive for perfection and that they often end up failing through no fault of their own, except for the fact that they lack clear direction and have forgotten how to to tap into instinctive parenting.
So how do we base our parenting on the correct values in order to raise our children to be the best they can be? I believe very strongly that we lead by example, by showing our children how to behave from the very beginning. This is invaluable to their development and continued learning. This means that you must talk, explain, discipline firmly but kindly, love, have fun and set healthy boundaries.
This does not mean that you have to be perfect in every way, in fact just the opposite. We all make mistakes whilst parenting because we are human, but how we handle those mistakes in front of our children will teach them how to cope with disappointment and irrational behaviour in others as they grow up. Its ok to lose your temper occasionally or be less patient than normal, its ok to make a bad disciplinary decision or be inconsistent. It is how you deal with these situations when they occur that is most important. An explanation to an older child as to why you acted the way you did is fine. Say sorry, explain you were tired. They need to learn that you are not perfect.
Being a parent is the most important job you will ever do as having the responsibility of raising another human being is not something to be taken lightly.
Professional Parenting and Child Development Specialist
"Paula provides exceptional care and her advice is always non-judgemental, very practical and full or wisdom"
"Paula has more than lived up to her Norland reputation in every way and has proved to be an absolutely super person.....her love of children and her obvious concern for their wellbeing and development is a reflection of her personality which is intelligent and caring."
"Paula successfully combines fun with discipline. Quite simply she has been the best nanny ever and our son adores her!"
With my Norland Nurse qualification along with over 25 years experience in raising children in varying situations and family dynamics, including my own son, I believe I can offer a unique approach to today's parenting needs.
My parenting style is based on a few basic rules and guidelines that are designed to be adaptable and focus driven on raising happy, well balanced children.
It's great to have advice about specific parenting or developmental issues for example, but your child is an individual with a unique personality and you need to spend time to get to know them and understand what works for you and for them. This is what I endeavour to get across in the advice I give.
Here are a few posts that can give you a good idea of what to expect on Teething to Tantrums:
A Little Background Or A Lot In This Case ...
As far back as I can remember I have loved the company of babies and young children. When I was 7 years old growing up in the New Forest in Hampshire, I begged and begged my parents for a baby brother or sister and when my mother brought my baby sister home when I was 8 years old she handed her to me and said 'here you are.’ From that point on I was besotted. I would change nappies and warm bottles for feeds, I encouraged my sibling to reach all her milestones and witnessed her first steps as proudly as any parent.
Birthday parties were my domain and it wasn’t just my sister who captured my attention. Whilst on holiday on the Isle Of White at the age of about 12 a couple staying at the same hotel had 2 year old twins with whom I became enthralled and to their parents delight spent ages playing with and entertaining so that they were able to relax far more than they anticipated.
Quite simply I was naturally drawn to children and they seemed to feel the same way about me. I was never gushing or loud or extravert in my behavior around them, but felt at ease and content in their company. I was a shy and somewhat awkward child always feeling slightly ill at ease in my own peer group. But when I was with children I felt so at home.
Norland Nanny Training
As I grew older I became passionate about caring for young children and fascinated by the way they develop and explore their world. I was all set on becoming a primary school teacher when I read an article about the Norland Nursery Training College, back when it was based at Denford Park in Berkshire and what it had to offer. I immediately knew that this is what I wanted to do as a career, so I applied for a place, was interviewed and thankfully accepted. Little did I know at that point how hard it was to be accepted as a student at this prestigious establishment?
My days at Norland were extremely happy and although we were made to work incredibly hard getting up on cold winter mornings at 6 o’clock to work in the milk kitchen, making up baby feeds, hand washing our charges clothes (washing machines were reserved for cloth nappies only) attending lectures on child development and health and learning how to cook nutritious meals for growing children, I loved every minute of it. In those days Norland Nursery Training College had its own Day Care Centre, Nursery School and residential nursery. As part of our training we would look after a child in the residential home for a 6 week stretch and this included sleeping in the nursery with them and taking care of all their needs as we would do in our future posts. This is no longer part of the training of a Norland Nurse, as although it was excellent experience for us it was not ideal for the children in our care.
On completing our time at college we were sent out to work for 6 weeks on a maternity ward and I was lucky enough to find myself at the prestigious Queen Charlotte’s Hospital in London. It was so rewarding working with new mothers, teaching them how to breastfeed and care for their newborns. In those days first time mums stayed in hospital for 2 weeks and so we had plenty of time to teach them all the basics of looking after their new babies.
I was also lucky enough to witness a couple of births and will never forget the wonder of being given a new life to hold. As nursery nurses we were responsible for cleaning up the new arrivals once they had been born, checking them over and swaddling them before placing them in the nursery ready to be returned to mum. Maternity wards were very different back then and were great training grounds for us, but I believe that we have come a long way in learning how important early bonding is for mothers and babies and that the way we did things back then was maybe not so ideal. However being able to stay in hospital for longer and having specialised nursery nurses to help you learn how to care for your newborn, I think, was invaluable and is something a lot of mothers could benefit from today.
After our stint on a maternity ward we then spent 6 weeks on a sick children’s ward. For this part of my training I was sent to Bristol Sick Children’s Hospital. Sadly, this was not to be an easy time for me. While my fellow nurses were looking after and learning how to play with children recovering from tonsillectomies, appendectomies and broken limbs, I found myself on the oncology ward. This was a harrowing experience that haunts me to this day. I knew then that you have to be a unique and special kind of person to be able to nurse such gravely ill children. My job was to play with the children on the ward and I was also asked to do quite a lot of basic nursing that I was not prepared for. I pointed this out to our principle when she came to visit us and I believe that the oncology ward was not included on subsequent rotations.
Once our hospital experience was completed we returned to college to sit our NNEB and RSH exams. We then embarked on our 9 month compulsory probationary posts as residential nannies which we had to complete successfully in order to achieve our Norland Diploma.
I look back on my Norland experience with great fondness and its reputation and the qualifications and life skills I achieved there have opened many doors for me in my life. I made lifelong friends and its impact on who I am today and how I view my life cannot be underestimated. It truly was the making of me. I emerged less shy, more confident and armed with the knowledge that I had acquired the best training possible in my chosen career. I was proud of my achievements having been elected Head Nurse by my peers and being awarded my Norland Diploma with distinction.
Children continued to be the centre of my world and I loved every minute of it.
My jobs as a private nanny both residential and daily in the UK and abroad expanded my experience with young children. It was during this time that I realized that I enjoyed imparting my knowledge to the parents I worked for. I was fortunate that my employees in general wanted the best for their family and wanted to make sure that the time they did spend with their children was valuable. Caring for children in a family setting taught me a huge amount about how to communicate with parents and understand their cares and concerns in raising their children.
All of this made me realise from a very young age what a difficult job it can be to be responsible for another human being 24/7 and despite all my experience and training there were times when I was exhausted through lack of sleep and exasperated by demanding toddlers.
The Day Care Centre
Another important post that taught me a great deal was when I was appointed Office In Charge of a Day Care Centre on the Kings Road in London. Here I had, with the help of 4 members of staff, the responsibility of caring for up to 20 children of working parents, ranging in age from 6 weeks to 5 years. I was in charge of planning the daily routine of the centre from organised activities, outside and indoor play, story time, quiet time, to mention but a few. As we were registered to look after babies from 6 weeks old we had a fully sanitised and functioning milk kitchen. We also provided all the childrens meals during their day with us, from shopping and planning of meals for morning snacks to lunch and afternoon tea.
This was an invaluable experience for me to be able to care for children from such varied backgrounds and my interaction with the parents and their day to day issues was a great insight.
Those early years of my training and subsequently the experience I gained working with families privately and at the Day Care Centre, have been the foundation of my parenting ethos today.
Becoming a Mother
I was living in South Africa when I became a mother myself and I was so happy to be able to apply all that I had learnt to the raising of my own son with the added insight into how one's perspective can change when it is your own child you are caring for rather than someone else's.
I was fortunate to have a wonderful husband who turned out to be an amazing father to our son and this was another level of learning for me when I had to share the parenting decisions with someone else and all that entails. We had to help our son adjust to leaving a life he adored and return to a grey and cold England when he was only 8 years old and that was really tough. I am happy to say however that I think we made a good team, and that is what co-parenting is all about……being on the same page and providing a united front.
Sadly, my husband passed away when our son was 15 and that led to another level of parenting that I never thought I would have to embark upon. However I can say that most definitely because the effort my husband and I had put into raising our son to this point and with the wonderful support from friends and family, he has coped amazingly well and has grown up to be well balanced and happy. I truly believe that the way we parented him in those early days had a great bearing on how he dealt with the loss of his father later on.
The Next Step
So I have been there and done it all when it comes to raising children. I know what it feels like to be so exhausted you don't feel you can go on. I have had to deal with crying babies that you have no idea what is wrong with them as you have tried all the tricks of the trade and nothing worked. I have struggled to breastfeed, hated potty training and lived through years of my own son being the fussiest eater on the planet.
I have no illusions that raising children is easy, but I do know that it is to my mind one of the most rewarding and fulfilling things you can ever experience.
I would like to help you embrace parenting in the same way with a realistic and not idealistic expectation of what it is all about. I believe I have the knowledge and experience to help parents make decisions about their parenting style based on common sense, intuition and a few golden rules that I think work.
The cornerstone of my parenting ethos is that the very best lesson we can teach our children is how to be a well-rounded, caring, loving and considerate member of society. Too often today children are seen as trophies.
I remember listening to a news report some while back that asked several parents what they were most proud of in their children and they all referred to their children's academic or professional success and not one of them said 'I am so proud of the person they have become'.
If you ask me what I am most proud off regarding my son, I say 'I am so proud of the person he is' and from a very young age people having been saying exactly that about him and still do. He is without doubt my greatest achievement and of whom I am most proud.
I would like to help you feel the same way about your children too. So join me on my quest to help parents today.