Three Wise Women (and the best piece of childcare advice ever!)

Linda Mason (the Founder of Bright Horizons) says in her book The Working Mother’s Guide to Life: Strategies, Secrets, and Solutions that to successfully combine a full time career and motherhood you need three things: you must have a partner who co-parents with you, you have to be happy with the choice you’ve made to work and you must have good, reliable childcare. These are wise words and I know I’m lucky to have all three. I’ll sing David’s praises in another post and even though working in Higher Education is a challenging place to be right now, I do have a supportive employer and a career I enjoy. This is a post about the women who care for Eve and Leah, nine to five, Monday to Friday, in my work place nursery (again, I know I’m lucky).

This is about Taiwo, Elizabeth and Midori and they have contributed so much to Eve and Leah’s development and the quality of our family life. Taiwo is a twin herself and also has identical twin daughters and she has given me the two best ever pieces of advice. The first was when Eve and Leah both had delayed speech – I was so worried about them – how could these babies who were surrounded by words not be talking. Taiwo calmly assured me that being twins they probably wouldn’t talk until they were nearer three. She was right. The second, actually the best piece of childcare advice ever probably, is to never, ever use the share word, use swap instead. The simple switching of these two words is like childcare nurofen – works instantly to remove the pain of children squabbling over stuff. Everyone we have passed this tip onto reports similar positive results. Taiwo is from Nigeria (did you know that Yoruba people have more twins than anyone else, so they really know what they are talking about, a Yoruban twin guide would be a fab read)

Next Elizabeth. I can’t remember where I read it but when I was pregnant and read everything I could on childcare someone wrote that it’s our job to give children three things, love, self esteem and discipline. Again wise words and Elizabeth is the best example of loving discipline. Everyone does as they’re told when Elizabeth is in charge (including the parents). If Elizabeth is discipline and self esteem then Midori is most definitely love. I am so grateful for the affection she gives to Eve and Leah who adore her and get excited every morning about seeing her again. She is lots of fun too and I love that she lets Eve use the karaoke machine (Midori is Japanese!) every morning.

There is a fourth wise woman, Victoria, who manages the nursery with quiet, gentle efficiency. One of the best things she’s ever said to me, when I was fretting (again) about Leah not knowing her colours was “She knows her colours, she just wishes everything was blue”. Why didn’t I figure that out? Why am I so uptight and these women are so relaxed and intuitive? I know they’ve had loads more experience than me but I also think they have other cultural influences of childcare outside of my western experience that’s just wiser, calmer and more relaxed. And we could all do with a lot more of that.

Thanks for everything Taiwo, Elizabeth and Midori, I don’t know what we’re going to do without you come September.

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