A Spoonful of Sugar by Brenda Ashford

aaaWeekly Trip to the Library

I urge all nannies read A Spoonful of Sugar: A Nanny’s Story. It’s been a long time since I’ve been lost in a book but I literally fell in love with A Spoonful of Sugar: A Nanny’s Story by Brenda Ashford and I couldn’t put it down.

It is a delightful true story of Norland nanny Brenda Ashford (Norland is the most prestigious school for nannies located in Britain). Brenda shares her memories of being raised, being educated, and the details of working as a true professional nanny for 62-years. It’s an interesting reminder of how child rearing has changed, and stayed the same, over the past century.

Educated in the 30’s her career starts just before the second world war. Her descriptions of bombs dropping in war time England really made me feel that I was right there beside Brenda. I am impressed by her constant concern and care of the children, despite the bombs dropping on the city.

I was captivated by her nanny training. I loved envisioning her pushing infants in prams (old fashioned carriages) in her starched black Norland nanny uniform with flowing black capes, lined with red silk.

Brenda also describes her job placements after training, her romance on her days off, and the amazingly interesting people that she encountered throughout her life.

Each chapter begins with her daily schedule for the time period in discussion and ends with the testimonial of the family, along with parenting tips and recipes mentioned in the chapter. The tips and recipes alone make for a great book.

My favorite part of the book are all the quotes I found throughout the memoir. She has many interesting anecdotes. Here are just a few of her pearls of wisdom:

“Sometimes children need to be bored in order to stimulate themselves.”

“Put a book in a child’s hands or plant them in an empty field or park, and suddenly the world opens up and becomes a fantastical place of make believe and adventure.”

“Little folk deserve a childhood that’s full of fun. It’s the single most valuable lesson in my eyes. I have always encouraged children to have a giggle wherever and whenever they can.”

“As for fussy eaters? I don’t stand for it. I have taken a hard line on this topic. This is a home, not a restaurant and you will jolly well try it before you turn your nose up at it.”

“Children cannot get up to your level, so you have to get down to theirs; try and understand how the world looks through their eyes.”

“If we respect little people then they in turn will grow up to respect others.”

“I had puzzled many times over the ingredients for a perfect recipe for a happy home. Throw in some stability, a dash of routine and respect. Sprinkle some fun and imaginative games and stir well. But the most vital ingredient is the mother. The mother is truly the heart and soul of a family.”

“Never let a house define you. You can make a home anywhere from an air raid shelter to a shed, if you have to. Riches and wealth don’t matter a jot.”

I only wish I could be half the professional Brenda Ashford was. Read the book, you won’t be disappointed!

You can purchase your own copy by clicking the links above or below:

A Spoonful of Sugar: A Nanny’s Story

A Spoonful of Sugar: A True Story of Life as a Norland Nanny

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