Pānui for Nannies

Updated: Apr 6, 2020

This pānui applies to maternal nannies. I know you paternal nannies have a much harder job when it comes to finding your place and understanding the new relationship you have with your “daughter in law”. From what I have seen and heard you are likely to have now been relegated to a zone that feels like no matter what you do, it won’t be quite right and you'll have to tiptoe to get any cuddles with your moko. She doesn’t even trust her own mother with her pēpi yet, so just be patient as she learns to let go and believe others love her precious taonga like she does. Maternal instincts are powerful and she should be listening to them, so let her!

If you are the new Māmā of a boy, have a wee think about how you will feel when your pēpi becomes a Pāpā and how being pushed away might feel.

Nannies, yes you have raised children, probably many of them, and quite likely successfully. The most important thing to remember right now though is that times have changed in the last 20 something years, new research has been done and we know new and different things than when we raised our own pēpi. Nannies, take a moment to remember what it felt like with a newborn getting huge amounts of new advice and tread carefully.

Sleep routines are different, wrapping advice is different, sleeping positions are different, when to give solids has changed, products are new and improved and we now know which ones we used on our own children which likely caused them irreparable damage. Lots of things have changed!

Your daughter will want your advice, when she is ready for it and when she wants it. And that’s ok. There will be times she doesn’t want your advice and this too is ok. Remember when she went to school and you suddenly knew nothing and her teacher knew everything, same story! Now her midwife, hapū wānanga tutor and plunket nurse know everything and you only know the bits she needs help with, when she wants them. And this is all ok.

It will be hard to watch your daughter struggling with the sleep deprivation, breastfeeding, pain, developing new relationships with her baby and a changed relationship with her partner. You will want to help her, take over, and on the really hard days take it all away and make it better, just like when you used to kiss away her tears when she tripped and fell as a toddler. You can’t, and even if you try she may or may not want you to. Learn to listen, learn to ask before doing anything and learn how to help without undermining. You won’t always get this right because there are hormones involved, so get really good at apologising when you get it wrong, Yes Nanny you got it wrong! And if you haven’t yet, you will. Apologise fast and move on. In preparation for when your moko can talk and tells it like it is, learn to suck up your pride Nanny!

When she can’t get to the supermarket and you are a long way away, organise grocery delivery full of healthy grab and eat meals. If she says don’t come and visit today, turn up anyway, hug her, do a small chore and leave. Send her a text of support. Cook a meal, but don’t necessarily stay to eat it with her. Send snacks! Remind her to eat and drink and shower and go to the toilet. Offer to babysit but don’t be offended if she doesn’t want you to. When you visit do small amounts of housework, but be prepared that this may either offend her or make her really grateful. Follow all instructions given for taking care of your moko, māmā knows her pēpi best. Believe she knows what to do, after all you raised this wāhine toa and showed her how to give and receive love.

Most of all love your precious moko, read to him, sing to him, teach him all those wonderful rhymes, enjoy him and appreciate all that he is and will be. Be proud of him and his Māmā and share his photos and skite about his milestones. Being a Nanny is amazing!

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