You know what I would have been doing as a part-time career if I had been born a century ago?
Governessing. Is that even a word?
Alright, being a governess.
Being a governess means to be a caretaker and tutor privately for children in upper middle class to upper class families, mainly based in Europe and the West for the past centuries, though this line of work faded out during the 20th century when children were pushed to outside schooling even more and care centres started to replace nannies.
A governess is essentially being a nanny and teacher in one, usually in charge of one to three children (sometimes more) of the one household.
Let me just say- I would just love this role.
It caters to what I aspire to domestically and traditionally, I love taking care of children (not a 20 to 1 ratio like in most childcare centres, I mean actually having the quality time for up to just three children) and being able to teach them as well. While I do enjoy teaching, especially the aspect of communicating with the children and seeing them so curious and fascinated, there’s the bureaucracy side of it (I will explain this in a later post, I think it warrants it). The unnecessary meetings, the extra reporting for lazy parents and all the BS incentives the (Australian) government has been trying to push that’s just diluting the fun and educational core of what schooling and teaching is supposed to be.
Also, I just really enjoy caring for children, even without the teaching part. I have been a babysitter in the past and though some may look down on it, I wouldn’t have any qualms being a nanny as I feel it is an honourable role to have. Screw what society says. My domestic strengths can definitely be applied in a nanny role.
The only sad thing about governesses is that they really didn’t have a hand in the housework, which is something I really do enjoy as well. The plus side of that is they are just meant to spend quality time with the children, truly keep an eye on them and make sure their education is going well.
In fact, I actually think that we should bring back governesses (Yes, now I’m finally getting to my point).
Let’s face it, childcare centres are overcrowded and most schools are just becoming rubbish. Rather than entrusting your very young children to childcare workers who are overstressed, overburdened with a high child-to-carer ratio (it’s not their fault, it’s the centres and government incentives), why not have just one person for your children who is a constant adult presence they can grow to trust? Childcare workers don’t have a lot of time to spend with the kids one-on-one, they can change staff without notice and as a result, your child doesn’t really have a stable carer they are used to most of every weekday. That’s basically most of their time.
It would be better for the children emotionally since they have an adult they would know, be used to and trust, an adult that has sufficient time to spend with them.
Now I know there are some concerns such as live-in arrangements, how safe they can be, making sure this is not ‘slavery’ and all that first-world sensitivities. I understand that, though I think if there are some agencies that can establish thorough background checks, a detailed system that has structures and codes in place to make sure that both the family and nanny are following the guidelines, it can be possible again. It will take time, a lot of changes and work, though I really think if someone is determined enough to push this, it can happen in a Western country.
I think there will definitely be some families out there with parents that would really just want to work all the time and mothers who don’t want to be at home (that’s sad for me but it happens, let’s be realistic). The next best thing isn’t to put their little kids in crowded childcare centres or pushing them to go to school younger and younger- it is to let them be cared for and taught personally by someone they can trust and enjoy having stable, quality time with for their formative years of life.
Parents owe their children that much, at least.