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No Nannies Allowed
At the recent children's event in Kuwait, I was shocked by the number of nannies sitting around our small kids activity center (play dough for the little ones, weaving with yarn and ribbons for older kids) and watching. At several times throughout the day, there were more nannies than parents present and at least two or three times, I had to ask the nannies to step back to allow room for the children to play.
More and more people in Kuwait are applying the ‘no nannies’ rule when it comes to events for kids. From deco patch workshops to Friday morning playgrounds, from carnival rides to field trips, those who work in the business of educating and entertaining children recognize the harmful effect of having a nanny around all the time rather than a parent participating in whatever the child does.
While there are many very good nannies in Kuwait, the simple fact remains that children need to develop strong and deep bonds with their moms and dads. To achieve this, they need to spend quality time together and engage in a range of activities together – not only eating at the family table but also rock climbing or crocheting, reading books or taking walks, talking and tickling, cooking and coloring and all the other million and one things you can do with your kids. There is no substitute for spending time with your kids. No toys that can buy the same type of bond, the same relationship. There are no TV shows the kids can watch that will teach them what the mom or dad knows.
The transfer for knowledge from generation to generation is a long and slow process and it is achieved through the careful cultivation of lasting emotional bonds, trust and shared activities and time together. There are no nannies, no matter how wonderful they are, that will give a child the same constancy, love and feeling of confidence and security as an attentive, engaged parent. Kuwait is a nanny-dependent society.
Whether you are a local or a foreigner, if you have children the odds are you also have a nanny or two (most double as housekeepers/maids/cooks/launderers/car washers as well). That doesn’t make you a bad mom or a neglectful parent. In most cases now a days, moms work full time or even if they are stay at home moms, they manage a busy household and social life and rely on nannies and maids for help and support.
But there should be limits. We need nannies to help us take care of our kids. But they should not be raising them. There needs to be special mom and children time, dad and children time and family time that does not involve the hired help. I make an effort at least once a week to book a ‘date’ with each of my daughters. It may be only for an half hour of coloring or the time it takes to get a mommy and daughter mani & pedi (quality time spent together can also be doing something the parent likes!). I do it because I work and I miss having time with my children.
If I was around them every day, all day, I would no doubt rush to grab some alone time and let the nanny watch them. But I think the key is striking a balance. Get the alone time you need, manage your affairs and also make sure to spend quality time with your children. Maybe having a nanny isn’t the best solution but it’s a real one in modern Kuwait and learning how to make it the most positive experience for everyone involved – and continuing to connect directly with your children on a daily basis – is what we all should be striving to achieve.