Parenting: the job description
By Wendy Golledge (Associate Editor, Netmums.com)
Some say it's the toughest job in the world, but it's also the most rewarding. You don't get any training, there's not much in terms of pay or holiday allowance and yet thousands accept the position each year. If parenting came with a job description it might look a bit like this ...
How many times have you wished parenting came with a how-to manual? And a list of magic cures for teething, tummy aches and scraped knees, and perhaps a PowerPoint of failsafe sleep solutions ...
But what about if before all you were given a parenting job description. Would you apply?
None (sorry about that).
In fact, you pay them. And they'll expect regular pay rises and bonuses.
24/7. Successful candidates are allowed a few hours snatched sleep per night for the first few years, increasing to slightly more as you remain in the position.
Even during night time hours, successful candidates will be expected to wake and resume normal duty at a moment's notice. There are 'bathroom breaks' during the working day but you may be accompanied by small people who you will be expected to chat to and entertain, possibly allowing them to sit on your lap while providing answers to any pertinent questions they may ask.
Candidates must be willing to work variable hours, including evenings and weekends, and be on call for, well, life.
Note: there is no pension scheme or set retirement age.
There is one allocated day per year (it is marked in the calendar as Mother's Day) but don't expect a massive break. On this day you will also be expected to eat cold toast in bed.
On other national holidays such as Christmas you will be expected to work longer hours.
There will be periods marked as 'holidays' in the early years but please do bear in mind that these will often require you to work twice as hard to keep the equilibrium – just in a different place with a higher temperature.
In latter years, travel to primitive camping sites on rainy weekends will often be allocated as holiday, despite being less relaxing than normal working hours.
Alarmingly, none required.
Essential skills required
- Ability to get through the day on less than three hours' sleep (please note: sleep will not necessarily be in one stretch).
- Firm knowledge of the alphabet, days of the week, months of the year etc (preferably in song form).
- Ability to carry out repetitive tasks (often involving wiping up bodily fluids) without complaint.
- Basic rhythm and being able to rock a baby to sleep continuously for approximately three years.
- Ability to do most tasks one-handed (please note, we provide a one-day training course in buttering toast/jam with one hand for any candidates unable to do so at start of taking on the role).
- Knowledge of most common nursery rhymes and songs. Preferred applicants will be able to point to the ceiling, point to the floor, point to the window and point to the door as well as point to various body parts – heads, shoulders, knees and toes etc.
- Candidates must have advanced knowledge of what various sections of society would do when on a bus (with wheels going round and round).
- Ability to generate the majority of animal noises immediately when asked. Special notice will be given to candidates who can also demonstrate convincing accompanying actions.
- Ability to make convincing aeroplane/train noises whilst advancing food towards small mouths.
- Recognition of special treasures such as particularly fine sticks, shells and pebbles.
- Acceptance that any beverage you consume will be tepid, at best, and stone cold (more usually) in the first two years of service.
- Must possess the ability to bite tongue repeatedly, particularly within the toddler and teenage years.
- Advanced knowledge of how to make slime.
- The ability to plan and organise increasingly impressive social gatherings and parties for clients of all ages.
Please note, this role requires a certain degree of physical strength.
Successful candidates must be able to carry a heavy weight in a car seat up flights of stairs and put up or unfold a buggy using one foot and a knee alone in under six seconds. As the role advances, this procedure may need to be carried out with a child held under one arm while stopping another running into the road.
Be aware that there may be bodily injuries from scratching or biting, and you will need strong shoulder strength to carry a small load for a mile back from a long walk.
Candidates must be proficient in giving piggy backs and shoulder rides.
Your immune system will be routinely tested with numbers bugs and infections passed on by your charges.
All applicants will be tested on their ability to go from zero to 60 mph in three seconds flat, in case an incident arises in which the the screams from the garden are a bonafide injury and not someone just crying wolf.
Advanced skills required as you progress in your role
- Ability to find objects that no one else can locate
- Ability to replace an empty toilet roll with a new one
- Advanced negotiation conflict resolution techniques
- Ability to pretend to buy and eat pretend food stuffs at pretend shops and pay with pretend money
- Being able to distinguish Tom Gates from Wimpy Kid, Dan TDM from Unspeakable, Rapunzel from Tiana and Baby Annabel from Baby Alive.
- Advanced levels of patience
- Ability to refrain from dropping the f-bomb despite being under continuous pressure
- Ability to successfully complete three tasks simultaneously while planning a further two
- Skills in releasing toys from nigh-on-impossible-to-free-from packaging at a moment's notice on special days and to remember to also have batteries to hand to make said toys work
- Ability to whip up costumes at a day's notice for special events
Preferred candidates will possess the following skills:
- Detailed knowledge of all Disney princesses, Fortnite and Minecraft
- Ability to make beginner (fishtail) and advanced (starbust) loom bands
- Knowledge of all the words to 'Let it Go' and 'Baby Shark'
- Ability to withstand stepping on Lego in the dark without shouting out loud or swearing at an audible level
- Ability to perform emergency first-aid
Possibility for advancement or promotion
In fact you must be prepared to step down a notch the longer you hold the position and fade into the background, while still providing basic care and handing out lots and lots of money. Oh and lifts.
You must be willing to be indispensable one minute, and an embarrassment the next.