March 12, 2008 09:16 PM by Lisa Stauber
This week, Supernanny Jo Frost is in New York to help a family balance work and home life. Rich and Lisa Banjany have a thriving home based cookie business, and three young children. Twins Zoe and Cameron are five, Blake is three, and they all act like babies. Mom gives her all to her fledgling business, and has little patience or energy left over for the kids.
Lisa is frustrated because the children act up and interfere while she is trying to bake and package cookies. They jump on the bed while she checks emails, and whine for food while she tries to package the goodies. She’s fond of the word “No” and hates messes. Rich is the opposite. He says no – sometimes three or four times – before ultimately caving in. The parents don’t work together and the kids are playing them against each other.
No worries, though, as Supernanny has seen it all before. Observation begins, and right away Blake starts acting up. He’s lonely for Mom, and will do anything for her attention, including taking a bite out of Dad. Jo pipes up with our Statistic of the Week: there are 20 million home-based businesses, and it’s more important than ever to help families find a balance between work and play.
Snack time arrives, and Dad is left to feed the brood while Lisa checks emails and catches up on work related phone calls. The kids scream, cry, pull on the fridge, and ultimately end up melting down on the floor. Rich gives in and the kids get what they want.
The Parent Meeting is low key. “There is no structure,” Jo says. “You’ve got to have boundaries.” Lisa agrees. “They have no stability,” she says. Jo has also noticed that Lisa doesn’t have fun with the kids. “I’m a ‘no’ person,” Lisa says.
Finally, Supernanny lays down the law. “You’ve shown your commitment to the cookie company. Now I want to see it for your family.” Jo’s first order of business is to separate cookie time from kid time.
She hunkers down with Lisa and Rich to hash out a schedule for baking, business, and taking care of the kids. It takes some work, but finally there is a plan on paper to carve out some much needed nurturing while keeping the cookies from taking over Rich and Lisa’s lives. The new Cookie Routine is posted in a prominent spot, and a boundary is created using tape to show the children when they can, and can’t, be in the kitchen.
Supernanny solves the snack problem by having the kids create a snack box. They’ll put a couple of healthy snacks inside, plus a piece of fruit, and end the battle for food. Lisa loves the idea, but watching the kids create the boxes is stressful. She hardly ever allows the kids play with clay or to paint, and it is driving her crazy that there’s so much mess everywhere.
Supernanny reviews the famous Naughty Spot technique and stands back to watch Mom and Dad implement the new disciplinary measure. Surprisingly, three year old Blake takes right to it. Five year old Zoe is more tenacious. She hits her brother, and when it’s her turn for the Naughty Spot, the battle of wills is on.
She pulls out every trick in the book, insisting that she is hungry, tired, and even claiming she is bleeding to try to thwart her parents. The Banjanys have never seen her like this, because they always have given in before. Jo helps them persevere as Zoe screams and runs away for hours. Finally, three and a half hours later, Zoe does her time. It is a marathon Naughty Spot battle, and even Jo is surprised at the duration.
Jo is proud of Lisa and Rich, though. “Mom and Dad stuck together and prevailed.”
Next, Jo tries to bring out Rich’s playful side. He is bothered that Blake likes to dress up, and the little guy doesn’t care if he’s carrying a purse or a truck. Supernanny points out that Blake is simply having fun pretending he’s an adult, and there’s no harm in him putting on a costume. She brings out a box full of props and dress up clothes, and Dad takes a turn as a rock star, including a feminine feather boa. Everyone’s laughing and Rich agrees to lighten up.
Jo leaves for four days, but Lisa and Rich aren’t quite ready to be on their own. Zoe has another horrible, drawn out Naughty Spot tantrum, and Lisa nags the children as they try to play with clay. Supernanny sums it up when she returns for more teaching. “This is all messed up!” she cries. “You make the choice to slack.”
Jo decides to pull out the big guns: Naughty Spot drills.
She makes the adults practice putting each other on the Naughty Spot, and she even takes a time out or two herself as they role play the finer points of making the children mind. Finally satisfied, Jo declares there is one more issue to address.
Time for a fun, messy project to get Lisa over her hatred of all things sloppy. First they will paint flower pots, then get out the potting soil and plant a garden. Soon Lisa is covered in paint and dirt, but she’s finally able to laugh about it. Maybe these kids will get to do more hand on projects from now on!
The family update is full of glowing praise for Supernanny and her techniques. Rich says, “Going forward, I think that we’re going to have a much happier family.” Lisa adds, “My kids can get messy, but they can’t mess with me.” It seems that Jo has helped another family learn to get along.
A set of outtakes during the credits of the show is where Supernanny really shines, though. She’s in a bee costume rolling on the floor tickling the children. No wonder so many families have come to love her!
Photo credit ABC/Jeff Neira