She's been dubbed 'a real life Nanny McPhee' and charges a gargantuan £500 for her trouble shooting services. Parentdish caught up with Kathryn Mewes, author of new parenting book The 3 Day Nanny to find out more.
There are lots of parenting books out there, can you tell us what's different about The 3 Day Nanny and your approach to parenting?
Kathryn: My entire approach is about 'Keeping it real'.
Parenting is not easy, you will not always get it right ....and yes you will learn through your mistakes.
My book is about parents accepting that they have taken the easy option in some areas of their parenting and now they want to correct them. For example, parents may have always let their child climb into their bed at night but now they want their child to self settle and have the independence of sleeping in her own bed.
The easy option in life is often the wrong one, the difficult choice holds the reward.
My book is about following my three day plans to guide parents to making a change. I have not been regimented in my approach and I have given alternative ways of doing things. My book is the first book that says to have made an easy choice is fine, it happens and now with only three days set aside you can make the change.
My ethos is about guiding your children to make the right choices and taking parental control so that your child feels secure and content with his boundaries put clearly in place.
I would like to feel that parents reading my book will see that I am supportive, not judgemental.
I am the last person to judge, I have not been lucky enough to have children yet and I can only empathise with the emotional turmoil and guilt parenting places on ones shoulders. I pray to God that I experience this in the not too distant future.
Tell us about yourself and how you came to be a nanny?
From the age of 12 I was always fascinated by 'how children's brains worked' and by the time I was 13 my parents had made me aware of The Norland College.
I graduated from Norland with a distinction in 1994 and continued to nanny for 15 years. I had a true passion for understanding children and I found that I could see life through their eyes.
And about your work as a 'bespoke nanny'
From nannying I moved on to wanting to share my knowledge with parents to help them understand why their child behaves in a certain way and how to manage them.
I lived in Australia for 3 years and I started to provide my service of helping parents with challenging situations they were having with their children - their sleep, eating and behaviour.
I discovered that only three consecutive days with a family were needed before a fundamental change occurred. This was the discovery of The Bespoke Nanny Service. In 2010 I introduced this service to the UK
and I have been offering it ever since.
What are/ were the most common challenges you face in your work?
The hardest time to be a good parent is when you are deprived of sleep.
Parents will call me because their children are not self settling and are waking several times in the night. This will then have a knock on affect in the day and a child's behaviour will be hard to manage.
The two most common challenges are sleep training and guiding parents to understand and manage their child's behaviour.
How did you have the idea for writing this book?
I was so fortunate. My idea is unique and I was written about in The Daily Telegraph
. Vermilion found me through this and asked me to write down what I do. I thoroughly enjoyed writing the book and feel so pleased to know that I can reach out to all families either through my literature or in person.
If you could give parents a short piece of advice, what would it be?
Give your child choices and make them aware of the consequences of making the wrong choice.
Remain consistent in your parenting.
Embrace your child for who they are - you cannot change them... you can only work with what you've got.
Kathryn Mewes is the author of The 3 Day Nanny (Vermilion) £12.99. Kathryn also provides a unique service where family life can be turned around in just 3 days. For more information or to contact her go to www.bespokenanny.com.
- Showing favouritism
Are you sure? So you’ve taken just as many pictures of your second child as your first then? A study by scientists at the University of California suggested 65 per cent of the mothers and 70 per cent of fathers had a preference for one child - however subconsciously.</p>
- Doing their homework
One study shows that nearly half of parents have done their children’s <a href="http://www.parentdish.co.uk/2011/05/24/mum-petitions-for-abolition-of-homework/" target="_blank">homework</a> at least once. It seems many either can’t resist the temptation to help their children do well in their studies or would rather do it than spend their lives whingeing at them to stop watching telly.</p>
- Avoiding play time
It’s the ‘not now, maybe later’ syndrome. Your child wants you to read them a story or go the swings but you are ‘just too busy’. Or is it really that you can’t be bothered because you’re texting, checking emails or even watching telly yourself! Figures show that, on average, parents spend just 36 minutes a day <a href="http://www.parentdish.co.uk/2010/11/05/do-i-play-with-my-child-enough/" target="_blank">playing</a> with their offspring.</p>
- Using them as an excuse
Blaming the kids is always the <a href="http://www.parentdish.co.uk/baby/why-having-a-baby-makes-the-perfect-excuse/?icid=parentdish|DL_2" target="_blank">perfect excuse</a>, whether it’s not having to go to a social occasion, the house being a mess, being late for work, forgetting someone’s birthday, the list goes on...</p>
- Bribing them with food
Whether it’s giving them chocolates or sweets as a bargaining tool for chores or simply to ward off a tantrum we often find ourselves bribing our kids. We’re probably well aware that research shows this could lead to obesity - but heh, anything for a quiet life?</p>
- Giving them a smack
For many it’s one of the biggest taboos. But there are plenty of parents out there who have given their kids a clip - even if it is on very rare occasions. A recent poll for ITV’s This Morning found that three out of four parents had, at some time, <a href="http://www.parentdish.co.uk/2011/10/19/should-i-be-banned-from-smacking-my-child/" target="_blank">smacked</a> their little ones.</p>
- Stealing their stuff
Surely not? Well have you ever eaten their chocolate gift from a relative - because you were ‘saving their teeth’. Sadly that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Findings from Clydesdale and Yorkshire Banks showed that more than half of parents with children aged five to 12 have raided their kids’ piggy banks!</p>
- Fibbing to get them into a school
Ever found yourself in church pretending to believe, just because it will help get your little on in a <a href="http://www.parentdish.co.uk/back-to-school/how-much-would-you-pay-to-get-your-children-into-a-good-school/" target="_blank">school with a good reputation</a>? Around 50 per cent of parents are willing to fib about their address, religious beliefs or ethnic background to get their kids a better education.</p>
- Writing them a dodgy sick note
Did you feign <a href="http://www.parentdish.co.uk/2011/09/09/sending-your-child-to-school-when-ill-do-you-do-it/" target="_blank">illness</a> as a child to get out of games? Now, as a parent, you find yourself writing a sick note for the teachers, even though you know there’s not much wrong with your kid’s health. A quarter of parents admit to this one, while almost 50 per cent have taken their children out of school in term time to save cash on holiday costs, according to <a href="http://www.tripadvisor.co.uk/" target="_blank">TripAdvisor.</a></p>
- Doing anything to get them to sleep
When it comes to getting some kip every sleep deprived parent has a guilty secret - whether it’s letting them stay up too late so that they just flake out, letting baby fall asleep on you, rather than putting it down in its cot or simply allowing them to sleep in your bed.</p>
- Swearing in front of them
You tell them off for using bad language, then find yourself uttering a <a href="http://www.parentdish.co.uk/2011/04/19/there-are-worse-things-than-swearing-in-front-of-your-children/" target="_blank">foul mouthed rant</a> in front of them. When they later use the same words in public you say “they must have picked it up at nursery/school.” Some nine out of 10 parents have sworn in front of their children according to a report from <a href="http://www.youngpoll.com/" target="_blank">Youngpoll.com.</a></p>
- Giving them a treat breakfast
There are few parents who haven’t, at least once in their child’s lifetime, bought them a sticky pastry or bag of crisps instead of making them a healthy breakfast. In fact, figures reveal that half a million kids eat biscuits for their morning meal while more than 100,000 only have a fizzy drink!</p>
- Driving badly
You’re always telling them that their behaviour is dangerous and then you pack them into the car and drive like a nutter. One in four parents admit to having broken the speed limit to get their children to school.</p>
- Overloading the buggy
You’ve read the safety warnings not to do it, but which parent hasn't loaded up their child's buggy with shopping bags while scooting through town, blithely ignoring the chance of the whole thing toppling over? When they get a bit older you allow them to stand up in the shopping trolley at the supermarket too, another health and safety no, no.</p>
- Not having a sit down family meal
Did you know that children are 24 per cent more likely to eat vegetables if they sit down to a <a href="http://www.parentdish.co.uk/food/small-cheats-for-big-family-meals/" target="_blank">family meal?</a> But how often have you let kids eat their dinner in front of the telly? Only 30 per cent of families eat together at least once a week.</p>