Couple look for a nanny who will raise their child like ‘the Victorians’

The life of a nanny often bears little resemblance to the cheerful working life of character Mary Poppins.
The life of a nanny often bears little resemblance to the cheerful working life of character Mary Poppins. Photo: Supplied

Any parent battling to get their child to eat their greens, stay off screens and go to sleep at a respectable time will know the merits of a strict nanny. Yet one couple from Ascot in the UK is taking authority to a new level - they're seeking a Victorian nanny to bring up their child.

In an advert placed on childcare.co.uk, they hope to find a live-in candidate who will raise their seven-year-old son in "the Victorian way" - to speak the Queen's English, to read history books and learn arithmetic, and to "act properly at all times".

There is to be no screen time, no affection (other than shaking hands and a kiss on the head at bedtime "if necessary"), and the little boy must wear his best clothes until bedtime. It's got to be a wind-up, right?

When asked to explain their penchant for a Victorian childhood, the parents who placed the ad - but, for obvious reasons, wish to remain anonymous - maintained that the Victorian style of parenting helps create well-rounded, respectable and polite young people, who go on to become successful adults.

"We'd like him to spend his time becoming the best version of himself, and growing into a respectable young man. He doesn't need a gaming addiction, like other children his age seem to have, to distract him from that."

Read the full advertisement here.

Yet the cold-hearted Victorians did speak some sense when it came to parenting. The 1880s edition of Cassell's Household Guide is filled with practical advice that is as useful now as it was in the 19th century: "Overindulgence is the stumbling block of life."

Breastfeeding

Baby bottles were already available in the 19th century, but the Victorians were the original Breastapo, regarding breastfeeding as one of the highest instincts of human nature. "The most suitable food for infants is that of Nature's own providing - mothers' milk," states Cassell's.

Sleep

All children require 12 hours sleep a night in a darkened room, according to Victorian wisdom, and those aged four and under should have a midday nap. "Wakefulness is generally caused by over-fatigue and excitement, and is a positively painful state to the sensitive organism of a young child," the guide explains.

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Diet

Victorian children were taught to eat slowly, with good table manners, eating everything on their plate - although portions would have been smaller.

Discipline: "It is by withholding or granting things coveted that the ruling influence of the mother's mind is most forcibly felt," Cassell's states. Yet the Victorians were sympathetic - the guide insists that whenever a child has done wrong, he or she should be freely forgiven by their parents.

 - The Telegraph