How to create a royally happy household! Norland Nanny reveals 15 hacks to 'fix any family' - from 7pm bedtimes for all under 7s to a morning board game to make getting ready for school a breeze
- Louenna Hood, 37, a former Norland nanny, has given her tips to help your family
- She has worked for several high-profile and royal families for over 17 years
- The maternity nurse has launched an app to help parents get the best advice
Norland nannies have the seal of approval from royalty, so if you're a parent starting 2022 on a somewhat frazzled note, who better to turn to for a quick refresh of your daily routine to help family life run a bit more smoothly?
Louenna Hood, 37, from Suffolk, graduated from the highly-prestigious Norland College more than 17 years ago and went on to work for several high-profile and royal families around the world.
Graduates cater to the super-elite, the children of oligarchs, and since 1892, the British royal family, with Prince William and Kate Middleton chosing Norland Nanny Maria Borallo to look after their three children, who has been with them since Prince George, now eight, was eight-months-old.
Louenna underwent the same rigorous training as Maria at the academy in Bath, including high-speed driving to avoid paparazzi, martial arts to defend against kidnappers and classical skills such as cooking.
She has now developed the Louenna app in 2020 to guide parents in their day-to-day lives, and she's sharing with FEMAIL her top 15 tips to help 'fix every family'.
Changes don't have to be dramatic, but tricks such as a morning board game and letting your children choose one meal a week, could have a transformative effect on everyone's mood and wellbeing.
She adds that all children under the age of seven should be in bed before 7pm because they get their deepest sleep before midnight, so it might be time to re-evaluate your evening routine.
1: BE AN EARLY BIRD
Set your alarm half an hour before the children wake. It sets the day off the right way. You can shower in peace and by the time your children rise, you feel awake and ready to start the day!
2: BOARD GAME
Create a list or visual board so your children know what has to be done in the morning - include getting dressed, brushing teeth, bed making and having breakfast.
Not only does this encourage independence but it will help your mornings run more smoothly. Children love having something to work towards, so create a sticker chart for when jobs are completed, discuss with your children how many stickers they have to collect before being rewarded with a little prize!
Each time you have to make a decision or think, it adds stress to your life so make a checklist for what needs to be in school bags each day including PE kit, swimming gear, spelling books etc.
3: CLOTHES ENCOUNTER
Lay everything your child needs to wear out the night before so they learn to independently get dressed in the morning. It’ll not only save you time and slash your stress levels in the morning but getting dressed independently improves your child’s fine and gross motor skills. Praising your child when they get dressed themselves boosts their confidence and self esteem and will help them at school when they have to get dressed independently after sports.
4: AIR MAX
Get outside for plenty of fresh air everyday… don't let the rain put you off, puddles make walks even more fun! Of course, this is easier in the summertime but even if it's just five minutes at the playground after school, the smallest amount of fresh air will have a hugely beneficial effect on your child’s behaviour and mood. As for you, do the daily mile.
Taking just 20 minutes of time out for yourself when the children are at school or nursery can clear your head and lift your mood.
If you have a baby, why not allow one of their naps to be in the pram so you can walk while they nap. Letting them nap on the move once a week is a good investment because it teaches them to nap anywhere and avoids you being tied to the house!
5: TARGET PRACTICE
Set some new year's resolutions together. Whether it’s biking to school one day a week or making one day a week a vegetarian day, forward planning and setting goals gives everyone a sense of achievement and pride when carried out. Children thrive on achievement so remember to congratulate them when you complete any resolutions.
6: SCREEN MONITOR
Set technology rules: no iPads in the bedroom, create a docking station for everyone’s technology to go at 5pm and turn off WiFi overnight. Technology is addictive - don't let children spend hours at a time looking at a screen.
When they ask you for a tablet say: 'Sure, you can have your iPad but I'd like you to help me set the table in 20 minutes.' This limits mindless usage.
Don't make your concerns into a huge issue and be realistic. Technology is now part of our world so it's no use banning all technology and television. In my experience, children who are told they can't have something only want it more.
There are key times in the day when a child should not be looking at a screen especially before bedtime. Research has found that the blueish light emitted from devices disrupts normal sleeping patterns and can be damaging to eyesight.
7: WORD UP
Choose a book and read a chapter each night together. There are a hundred reasons why it's great to read with children.
It improves their cognitive development, enhances their understanding of the world, encourages bonding, and of course has a hugely positive impact on their speech and language development.
If you read just one story a day to your child, they will have read 1,825 by their 5th birthday! I love any books by Julia Donaldson or Roald Dahl, and the classic Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame.
8: MIND YOUR MIND
Mindfulness is the ability to be present - being aware of where we are and what we’re doing in the moment. Over the years, I have learned from observing children that they are the champions of mindfulness.
They live in the present and don't have much concept of the future. Whilst it can be irritating if you’re late for an appointment and your child gets distracted by something in the garden en route to the car, there’s also a beauty in how children are not affected by everyday stresses.
Practice mindfulness with your kids each day to calm the mind and enhance mood. You can incorporate simple techniques into everyday tasks. Every morning when you go into your bathroom, take a big breath and smile at your reflection.
Think of something or someone who makes you smile and set your day off to a positive start! There are other simple mindfulness ideas in the Louenna app for both children and parents.
9: BE A MEAL PLAN PRO
Write down what you’re going to eat for the week ahead and let your children choose one meal each. Planning meals as part of a weekly shop is much more cost-effective than buying ingredients day-by-day.
When you write down what you’re eating, you’re also less likely to repeat dishes and have more variety. As well as reducing food waste and saving you money, allowing a child to choose a meal themselves will also encourage them to feel valued because they are being included in family-life decisions.
10: MUNCH BUNCH
Eat together as much as possible. It’s less time consuming to cook one sitting, seeing you eating something new will encourage your children to be adventurous, and has a positive effect on children’s table manners.
Not getting up and down from the table, learning to use cutlery, and sitting at the table until everyone has finished are manners that should be encouraged everyday so that they become natural behaviour.
Best of all, sitting at a table together gives you an opportunity to talk about what’s happened in each of your days.
11: FILL YOUR GLASS HALF FULL
Be positive about your year ahead. Children mimic our behaviour much more than we realise so if you are happy and excited about what is coming in 2022, your children will be too.
A positive mind equals a positive attitude, so plan something nice to look forward to doing as a family. A trip to the beach or a family movie night are two activities that cost nothing.
12: KNOW YOUR NUTRITION
Eating a balanced breakfast has many health benefits including upping our energy, protein and calcium levels as well as being associated with better brain function. Two of my favourite recipes are oats or breakfast smoothies.
Then prepare healthy snacks together such as crudite and hummus or oaty energy balls to satisfy raging after-school hunger pangs. Of course, the odd bit of chocolate or treat is absolutely fine and part of a balanced and realistic diet but dipping back into the festive chocolates every day isn’t the best plan of action for anyone!
13: YOU RULE, OKAY?
Set rules and boundaries and stick to them so your children feel secure, know they are safe and not to push constantly for more. My rules are that we eat well, sleep well, are kind to others and have good manners.
I believe in picking your battles and don't say no unless you really mean it. Before a ‘no’, ask yourself, ‘Why am I saying this? Can I give a reason?’ You should always be able to justify your reason - for example, it’s bedtime now because otherwise you will be tired and miserable tomorrow; or you can’t have another ice cream because it will give you a tummy ache etc. Give a short explanation but don’t let the negotiations start!
Toddlers like to feel independent and experiment with how much control they can have. Tantrums only occur if they know you’ll eventually give in to them. If their tantrum doesn’t affect you or get a reaction, then they won’t repeat a tantrum in the future.
14: SUPPLEMENT SAVVY
Take a daily dose of Vitamin D - both you and your little ones - to maintain healthy bones and muscles, strengthen the immune system and promote better sleep.
It is advised that all breastfed babies take a Vitamin D supplement from birth, but it’s a beneficial supplement for all of us, especially during winter months when we need all the help we can get to fight coughs and colds!
15: RE-REGULATE ROUTINE
Get little ones back into their regular bedtime routine. Give them a nice warm bath, bedtime story and a cuddle before tucking them in at their usual bedtime.
If older children have been allowed to stay up later during school holidays, slowly move bedtime forward so that falling asleep isn't difficult. Children should be in bed by 7pm until they reach the age of about seven.
In the early part of the night – up until midnight – children have their deepest and most uninterrupted sleep, so it’s really important that younger children are asleep in bed by 7pm.
The Louenna app is available to download on the App Store & Google Play or visit www.louenna.com for more information