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Page:Mrs Beeton's Book of Household Management.djvu/2110

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Duties of the Nursery Governess.—Where a nurse and nursemaid are kept, these would chiefly consist in teaching, needlework and superintendence very probably walking out with the little ones, and having those old enough to come to table in charge during meals; but where there are no nurses, and the general care of the little ones devolves upon her (generally the case when a nursery governess is engaged), her duties are more numerous and varied. Should there be a baby besides several other children in such a household, it is not expected that the nursery governess will do more for it than to take it occasionally in her charge and do a little needlework for it when necessary, the mother washing, dressing and looking after the infant herself. The governess's work chiefly lies with the other children. She washes and dresses them, has them under her charge at their meals, takes them out walking, gives them instruction according to their ages, looks after their clothes, and puts them to bed. It should be part of her duty also to amuse and interest the little ones while they are with her, and to be on the watch for, and to correct, all that is wrong or ill-mannered in their ways. Incidental duties, such as a little help given to the mistress of the house, dusting the drawing-room, arranging the flowers, and many other little tasks, should be willingly performed if there be time to spare from that which must be devoted to the children. None of these tasks, however, would be asked by a mistress who looked upon the governess she employed in the right light (unless she had engaged her to do them) except as an assistance to herself; requested and rendered as such, they should be the means of creating mutual sympathy and friendship.


The Nursery should be a bright, cheerful room, sunny and airy, and if at the top of the house, not exposed to the extremes of heat and cold. Children suffer sooner than adults if the hygienic arrangements are not perfect, and as in some houses it happens that, with perhaps the exception of a short half-hour now and then, they spend all their time at home in the one room, it ought to be kept at an even temperature, and made as pleasant as possible for its inmates. The walls should be covered with sanitary paper of some cheerful pattern, and varnished. The windows should be air-tight and free from draughts. Ventilators should be inserted near the ceiling (the importance of fresh air for the life and well-being of children cannot be over-estimated). The fireplace must be provided with a substantial and efficient guard. The greatest cleanliness is needed in a nursery, for the children cannot thrive if they are not well kept, and a room so constantly used as the day nursery by little folks, needs more cleaning than ordinary sitting-rooms. The floor of the night nursery should not be covered with carpet, and it is better that each child should have its own little bed or crib, with sufficient, but not too much, clothing.