A Few of My Favorite Things (Or How To Solve a Problem) courtesy of Maria von Trapp, Nanny extraordinaire.
Here are some key ways that I am different from Maria von Trapp:
* I am never going to lead my charges across the Alps whilst singing in harmony;
* I will never yodel as a goat in a marionette performance;
* I am not, nor ever have been, a nun.
Beyond those small differences, Maria von Trapp – as channelled by Julie Andrews- inspires me every day in my life as a nanny. In fact, she provides a wealth of knowledge for nannies everywhere – from her WWII life in Austria to 21st century Vancouver.
How Do You Solve a Nanny Problem like Maria (would)?
1. Seek Advice
While Maria knew she had to climb every mountain (and ford every stream), she also was wise enough to know when she needed help. Her guru was the Mother Abbess. If I myself am facing persistent challenges as a nanny, I seek out the wisdom of trusted women in my life. Through the years, I have called upon my dear aunt in Halifax for nanny (and life) advice. Who is your nanny mentor?
2. Never Give Up
As nannies, we face a myriad of roadblocks everyday. That’s what makes our jobs so much fun – and so maddening. Maria was never defeated by any problem: big or small. She tackled them with gusto and creativity. Need some play clothes for the children? My, those curtains look nice. Everyone’s afraid of the thunderstorm? This calls for an instant slumber party. Nazis chasing us through the streets? Let’s play hide-and-seek at the Abbey.
Do not follow Maria’s actions exactly, Nanny friends, for I will deny ever having counselled you to design clothing from your employee’s window treatments. However, embrace her creative spirit as you solve problems, big and small.
3. Share your Passion
Maria knew the power of a pedagogy: you can teach best what you love most. Maria loved the power of music. She brought her guitar to work. She taught the kids how to name notes by creating a Do-Re-Mi song for them. She arranged for the children to perform for their father and for guests. Her exuberance for singing spread to them.
Do you have a passion that you can share in your nanny world? Although I can neither sing nor dance well, I do love musical theater. I have shared this world with my children. From the library, we check out Broadway soundtracks from Annie to Xanadu, and we sing-along with the likes of Gene Kelly and Lin-Manuel Miranda. I cheer wildly as the sole audience member during their hysterical – and usually nonsensical – performances. Trust Maria: kids like to love what you love.
4. Know When to Take a Break
Like all good nuns, Maria knew the power of solitude and contemplation. Everyone – especially a nanny – needs a break. From urban Toronto to a quiet neighborhood in Victoria, from a suburb of Ottawa to an apartment complex in Calgary, find a change on scenery. On your days off, schedule in some time to unplug and recharge yourself. Enjoy some silence. In fact, that’s what I’m going to do right now. And, in the words of the Von Trapps, “So long; Farewell; Auf Wiedersehen; Adieu!”
Trust me that you can solve a problem as a nanny if you follow these tips!