Nanny 911's Yvonne Reveals the No. 1 Problem with Kids
Nanny 911's Yvonne
Are your kids sneaking into the pantry as you read this? Quick, go check. Are they taking over your bed at night? Stop right here. Nanny Yvonne
disapproves, and she says there is
a way to change it. Relieved? Currently in its third season, Fox's Nanny 911
(Fridays at 8 pm/ET) is reviving families across America one by one, and we wanted to know how they deal with all those screaming monst-, er, children
. Yvonne visited TVGuide.com and told us who put her up for the show, where she learned her caretaking techniques, and the No. 1 thing parents everywhere should be doing to keep the peace at home.
TVGuide.com: You've had about 20 years of experience working with children, right?
Yvonne: It basically started when I was really young. I come from a single-parent family and I have a handicapped brother who I used to look after when my mom went to work, pretty much from when I was 8 until I was 16. [When I] went into the corporate world, I decided I didn't want to work with adults, I much preferred children.
TVGuide.com: What did you learn from taking care of your brother?
Yvonne: I learned to see beyond the setup. That's why I'm actually quite good on the show, I can see deeper than that. He taught me a lot of patience, a lot of empathy and to read people's body language.
TVGuide.com: What made you decide to come to America and work with families?
Yvonne: I was at a job in London, again in the corporate world, and I met a woman from Boston who said she was looking for a nanny and asked me if I was interested. I said, "Yeah, why not?" I was more like a slave than a nanny. I was working 60 hours a week for $60 a week, and it didn't even occur to me, "Yvonne, you're only getting a dollar an hour." Plus, I used to do the cleaning, so she would come along and wipe her hand over the mantelpiece. I stayed because of the children, but then it was definitely time to move on. Most of the families after that I was with for at least three years; one family I was with for six. I only [intended to come] for a year, but I've been here for 20 years now.
TVGuide.com: What kind of corporate work were you doing that turned you off to that world?
Yvonne: I was a secretary, which is mundane as far as I'm concerned. I've had much more fun the last 20 years.
TVGuide.com: How did Nanny 911 come your way?
Yvonne: It was a bit of a shock. My husband e-mailed the show without telling me, and the phone started ringing. I thought it was a joke because it was like, "Hi, this is the casting office for Nanny 911.... " I was like "Yeah, right." Within about 10 days, I was in L.A.
TVGuide.com: Was there any hesitation?
Yvonne: I was really hesitant, actually. I thought to myself, "Do I really want to be on a TV show as a nanny? I am a nanny." Before I joined Nanny 911, I didn't actually believe you could turn a family around in a week.
TVGuide.com: Yeah, when you first hear about it, it seems so unrealistic, but with your knowledge, it really is possible to change people's perspectives.
Yvonne: They have a lightbulb moment. There are [hundreds] of hours of filming and you see 45 minutes, so we fix a lot more than you see.
TVGuide.com: Tell me about this week's episode.
Yvonne: The [Mills] family in Florida was probably one of my favorites, because I went through the whole gamut of emotions, from being angry to being sad. Basically the father was a beer-drinking lout who ordered his wife around, and he was teaching his 9-year-old son to do the same thing, which is totally inappropriate. You'll see things worked out really well. Everything went like a perfect, magical Nanny 911.
TVGuide.com: Do they just have the one son?
Yvonne: No, there are four kids. The boy's on the football team, the girl's a cheerleader, there are two little ones, and the dad's ordering everyone around. They have a super-smart 2-year-old, and when I was training him to sleep in his own bed, the camera crew was laughing, because he would hear my shoes tip-tapping on the floor, and he'd quickly go back into bed. It was hilarious. You won't see that, because there wasn't time to put that in the show. But it worked. All my shows have been about sleep issues, and I've been seven-for-seven.
TVGuide.com: What have you found to be most difficult this season?
Yvonne: Watching the shows after we've taped them, because we're there and we're emotionally involved at that time. To actually see that cut down to 45 minutes is really hard. And the usual [difficulty]: I hate looking at myself on television. I really, really do.
TVGuide.com: Does it seem like it's not you?
Yvonne: It really is surreal. On the plus side, it's shown in England, so my brother is my No. 1 fan. It's really sweet.
TVGuide.com: You said you were brought up in a single-parent family. Was it strict? Were there rules?
Yvonne: You know what's strange is that all my mom had to do was change the look of her face, raise an eyebrow, or change the tone of her voice and you knew that you did something wrong. I don't know why, but we were always polite, we always followed rules. I don't remember her physically saying to us, "This is what you have to do." We just did it. And I think schools were a lot different then. I'm talking a looong time ago. People had higher expectations of children, and I don't think they have that nowadays.
TVGuide.com: What do you think is the No. 1 parenting problem here?
Yvonne: Children walk all over their parents. The parents do not follow through, so the kids know it's an idle threat. If you're going to say something you don't mean, what are you teaching your child?
TVGuide.com: Would that be your best piece of advice to everybody?
Yvonne: "Say what you mean and mean what you say." Follow through! Kids like the structure, they like to know what's coming. If you're going to do something, mean it.
TVGuide.com: Are there ever moments on the show when you want to give up?
Yvonne: Yeah. I can't lie. It's really intense. We go in there to fix the problem and we have such a short time to do it. You leave at the end of the day and you're exhausted. It could have been a frustrating day, but that's part of the job.
TVGuide.com: Have you ever watched Supernanny? Do you know Jo Frost?
Yvonne: I have watched Supernanny. I don't know Jo. I think she has some interesting techniques that she may have borrowed from Nanny 911....
TVGuide.com: Oh? Like what?
Yvonne: All the rewards boards and things we used in Season 1. I think she does a great job, but I like Nanny 911 better because there are three different personalities dealing with situations differently.
TVGuide.com: Now, do you have any children?
Yvonne: I've had about 300 of them!
TVGuide.com: I was wondering if the show would discourage you....
Yvonne: People often say that watching the show is great birth control. [Laughs] No, I unfortunately couldn't have children, and this is a great way for me to give back something to families. And I'm good at it. I have a lot of common sense, thank goodness, probably from my brother. I get my fix, and then I leave.
TVGuide.com: What do you do to relax when you're not doing Nanny 911?
Yvonne: I write. I actually write a column, which isn't really relaxing from the show, because people write into me with their problems. But I'm writing a children's book as well. I don't want to write a nanny book, because there are far too many of them. I want to write something that's geared toward children that teaches them a moral lesson.
TVGuide.com: When will that be published?
Yvonne: I've written it down, I've got the marketing, somebody's working on the illustrations, so I'll just work on a publisher. Maybe I'll publish it online, I don't know. And I have a nanny cookbook! [Laughs] No, I don't.
TVGuide.com: Do you have time to watch TV? Any favorite shows?
Yvonne: I actually watch a lot of BBC America shows, and I also watch Rome on HBO. The Sopranos is one of my favorites, and Supernanny sometimes, but don't tell her! [Laughs]
TVGuide.com: This week's episode is your last of the season....
Yvonne: Yeah, I'm done taping unless we get picked up again. We don't know yet, but we probably will. And if not, I'm going to ride off into the sunset, save families one by one, and write my book.
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