Six years ago I landed my first nanny job with a fantastic family.
On the first day, I waited at the designated pick-up area for Bella and Seb, an overzealous 15 minutes early. Eventually they emerged, I took their bags and bingo – I was their favourite Nanny already.
We arrived home and it was homework time for the kids while I fixed some afternoon tea.
“What would you like?” I asked.
Bella chimed up immediately and jumped on the spot. “Chippies, chippies!”
I frowned. “Chips?! Yuck, they’re bad for you!”
Bella: “But they’re so yummy, please, please, please, puuhh-lleeaassee.”
I shook my head. “Sorry!”
There was no way I was going to pump grease, fat and chemicals down this little girl’s throat.
“Seb, what would you like for afternoon tea?” (note: Bella was still jumping up and down, wailing.)
Seb just shrugged his shoulders.
Walking to the pantry, Bella offered some compromise: “What if I have an apple… and then some cookies?”
I shook my head again, sympathetically.
I opened the pantry doors, only to be struck by a rainbow mural. A mural of brightly coloured chip packets, chocolates, lollies, shapes… you name it, it was there.
My goodness it was a pretty sight – well done to the junk food marketing teams of this world – success!
“But our old Nanny always let us have chippies,” Bella retorted.
As I scrounged around for something green, anything unpackaged – I explained to Bella that while I’m not her old Nanny, all that junk food is bad for you.
“But why?” she whinged.
“Because it will make you feel yucky. It won’t give you any energy or help you grow up strong.”
“Why?”… and so I explained for the next hour or so (with great evidence) the necessity of eating healthily to a 9 year old.
When their mum Sarah came home that night, the first thing the kids said was, “We ate fruit for afternoon tea, not chips!”
Sarah looked at me amazed… and clearly pleased. “Fantastic!” she said.
As I looked at her somewhat apologetically, I wondered how to approach the delicate issue of her junk infested pantry. “I’m a bit of a health nut, sorry!”
She had a stern look on her face – it could go either way.
“Brilliant. You can teach the kids all about it. and if you want to do an overhaul of the pantry please do so – I’m too busy. Just let me know what money you need for shopping each week and you can buy them what you like.”
Just like that, I had been awarded the prestigious job of giving both the pantry and her kids, a healthy make-over.
It took me around 6 weeks to get Bella eating healthily without protest. Seb – well he was a piece of cake – pardon the unhealthy pun.
With the kids’ help, we went on weekly shopping expeditions to the local fruit and veg market. Together, we chose the foods they wanted to eat and they helped to create their own healthy snacks and school lunches.
The pantry was rid of anything with fizz, sugar, grease or any other tooth/organ rotting properties.
Now that the kids are 13 and 16, they both eat healthily without second thoughts.
In hindsight, was it my place to go and rearrange Sarah’s pantry for her?
Was I unknowingly seeking vengeance on two innocent kids for my mother’s stern “no junk food” policy growing up? Was I subconsciously wanting Bella and Seb to feel the anguish of their fellow playground mates refusing to swap an apple with a ‘Rollup’?
No – I think I was just being responsible.
I wonder if there are many other ‘pantry police’ in this world. I’ll leave you to ponder that one – I’m off to get an apple.
Steph Wakefield has got a long bucket list. At 24, she is the founder and owner of My Super Nanny, a free online service for parents to find child care.
How would you feel if someone told you – or your kids – what you could and couldn’t eat?