Picture the scene. I was sat at a table with friends enjoying brunch a few Fridays back, when the conversation changed to Big on Children’s Super Granny. “It’s been life changing,” my friend told us, describing how much happier and calmer her house had been since she came to visit her three children.
So who is Big on Children’s Super Granny? Andalene Salvesen owned a playschool in Cape Town for 8 years and ran a Baby/Toddler workshop for a further 12 years. This exposure to children, along with a passion to help parents (and a ton of self-study) earned her the title ‘Super Granny’. She has now been presenting parenting seminars for the last 16 years, developing a home visit programme to change family dynamics and empower parents.
In the days that followed that brunch, I started to think about Super Granny visiting my home. We don’t have any major problems to address (apart from the fact I haven’t slept for the past 3 years as my boys don’t really rate sleep), but I do have two very strong-willed children who are fond of tantrums – and the promise of that changing for the better was very tempting indeed.
So I did it. I booked a home visit.
I was a bit nervous beforehand, as I knew she got results – so I was expecting a stern, Nanny McPhee-esque lady to enter my house, pick apart my parenting skills, and traumatise my children. I couldn’t have been more wrong. Andalene was kind, warm, funny, and the boys loved her – until we started the ‘time out’ routine, that is.
The premise was simple enough. We asked the boys to do something we knew they wouldn’t agree to (playing quietly in their room in Stanley’s case and voluntarily putting his monkey and dummy in his cot in Wilfred’s case) – and when they refused, we calmly followed with ‘You’re not listening’ and gave the instruction again. When they refused, we put them both into “time out” in separate bathrooms with lights on and us just behind the door (one minute for every year of their age – so just 3 minutes for Stanley and 1 minute for Wilfred). When the time was over, they needed to stand up, happily walk out the room, and follow the original instruction – or it was back to square one and the countdown started again.
45 minutes of crying and refusing to sit down (Wilfred) and screaming and trying to negotiate (Stanley) followed. It was surprisingly bearable with Andalene there to support us – but when Wilfred was still refusing to sit down 45 minutes later and Stanley was making up stories of sore arms and tummy aches, I didn’t expect it to end any time soon.
But suddenly, Wilfred understood. He took my husband’s hand, walked happily out of the bathroom, and put his monkey and dummy into his cot. I was so shocked I stood with my mouth open, while Andalene praised him loudly for such “good listening!” His brother quickly followed, listening to the instruction to play quietly in his room until he was called. I watched from the door way as he delved into his toy box and sat down with a toy, chatting happily to himself as he played.
We asked Wilfred to join his brother and play quietly in his room – and at the age of 22 months, he instantly walked into the room and sat alongside him.
I was staggered. My children have never played happily in their room on their own. I was already starting to wish I’d booked Super Granny sooner!
Andalene stayed with us until bedtime – and for the first time ever, Stanley went to sleep without a dummy (I had no idea how we were ever going to banish that one) and Wilfred without a bottle of milk. I expected tears, anger, and sleepless nights when we cut those two things out of our life – but 15 minutes later, they were both sleeping peacefully. And guess what? I got the first full night sleep I have had in months.
I waited a few days to write this review – as to be honest, I felt like Super Granny had cast a spell on my house and it would eventually wear off. But it just keeps getting better. The boys are still themselves in every possible way – but better behaved, calmer, and actually a lot happier. And most notably, they have slept through the night for 4 nights since she visited. Incredible.
It is still a work in progress and we’ve had to use the “time outs” occasionally since (both at home and outdoors) – but now we have the skills, being a parent is so much easier and more enjoyable. To be honest, it is only now that I realise how hard things had been with a 3 and 1 year old in the house – and taking them out on my own wasn’t always easy. But just 4 days after Super Granny worked her magic, I would take them both out alone (even without a buggy) without giving it a moment’s thought – and better still, I’d really enjoy their company.
Our house is suddenly so peaceful. Honestly, I’m still in shock!
My friend was right. This really could be life changing – and I am so pleased I took her advice and invited Big on Children’s Super Granny into our home.
Big on Children’s Super Granny is in Dubai until December 22nd and she has availability for bookings. She will be back in Dubai again in February. The cost of a home visit on weekdays (9am and 1pm sessions available) is 1,200aed. On weeknights (5pm), weekends and holidays (both 9am, 1pm and 5pm), the cost is 1,500aed. If you live overseas, she also offers home visits via Skype. Book now at www.munchkins.me