I studied for my NNEB (National Nursery Examination Board) way, way back in 1996 when people were arguing over Oasis or Blur and hair straighteners were not yet invented, I shudder at the thought now!
During the two year course I was taught all the baby basics that I would need to become a capable nanny: how to change a nappy, make up bottles, discipline in a firm but fair manner, wind a baby get a baby to sleep. It taught us just what we needed how to go out and be the best Nanny we could possibly be, just like my idol, Mary Poppins.
At the end of the course, Mary Poppins herself paid us all a visit. It wasn't really her of course but in my naïve eyes it may well have been. I remember the day like it was yesterday (the 90's only just happened right?) In she breezed with her big bag, not a scrunched up baby wipe or snotty tissue in sight.. She described her life and job as a nanny and she made is sound amazing AND glamorous. I was sold and the very next week she placed me with a family with three young children. With my new found skills and enthusiasm I couldn't wait, it was going to be great. My nanny career had begun.
Now fast forward the best part of nearly two decades (how did that happen?) and I can confidently say that nanny life is anything but glamorous and was absolutely nothing like they taught us on the course. Please let me explain why:
A poopy nappy is so very easy to change on a baby doll but In reality a baby will kick their legs wildly about, get poop on their feet then crawl off leaving a huge stain on your white carpet before you have even got ONE baby wipe off the pack.
The recommended way to correctly make up a bottle as not to give your offspring dysentery will change with great frequency and then you have to remember how long they been sterilised/left out whilst you try and comfort a screaming and very hungry baby on your hip simultaneously cooling the bottle down under the tap and getting water everywhere.
Discipline techniques go straight out the window when you realise that there is no such thing as a text book baby, they are all different and that they will continue to draw on freshly painted walls even after a healthy stint in time out or on the naughty step.
Feeding a doll is similar to changing a dolls nappy, so easy to do when they don't try to grab the spoon, smear it EVERYWHERE and then fling it across the kitchen.
Your bag will NEVER be immaculate. There will always be scrunched up baby wipes, endless used tissues, random stuff the children pick up on their travels, sticks ( someone please tell me I am not the only one or is this just me?) and a sippy cup that has leaked. This of course will also apply to your pockets. All of them.
Tired children just don't go quiet and then fall into a blissful sleep. There will be a hair raising time of much bouncing off the walls, high pitched shrieking and fighting before they finally give in. The same goes for a baby, you don't just change and feed them and they magically drift off. There will be much rocking and jigging and lot of waking up just as they go off.
Despite all of this, Mary did have one thing so very right, raising children is totally AMAZING and I wouldn't change one single bit (well maybe the drawing on the freshly painted lounge wall!) for all the stuffed pockets in the world, even the ones that ended up in the washing machine.
Today I am now the one helping families, a real life Mary Poppins and unlike my course I always tell parents about the pockets, even the dirty bits.