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Interview with a Nanny!

2017 October 31

We asked a childcarer with over 20 years’ experience working with children to share some of her best advice and top tips for new nannies and parents.

  1. My top piece of advice to a new nanny is to find out as much about your new job as you can within the first week. Ask questions about how your employer likes things done, where they keep things, when you should do things. Check regularly that you are working the way they want you to and make changes if you aren’t. And don’t take offence if you’re not getting things quite right to begin with. If you can do this, and remain open and honest, you will be happy in your job.
  2. My favourite thing about being a childcarer is watching the children I have cared for grow from babies to toddlers, toddlers to school children and school children to teenagers. Now, working as a sleep and behaviour coach, what I love the most is making a difference when families are really struggling, even to the point that the parents’ relationship could be in jeopardy. The changes that I can make, by tweaking a baby or child’s routine, the way they fall asleep can totally change the family dynamics and make everyone in the house’s life easier.
  3. The hardest thing I’ve found about being a nanny is knowing that in some jobs I have understood the children’s needs better than the parents, having had many years’ experience working with children. I have had to follow instructions of a parent, knowing that I’m not doing what is best for their child, and have tactfully tried to make changes in the best interest of the children. I truly believe that it is the job of a nanny to do what is best for the children in their care, which means providing a healthy balanced diet, helping them to learn to process their emotions, encouraging healthy sleeping habits as well as providing a happy, nurturing environment for them to learn and grow in.
  4. One thing I wish I could change about being a nanny is the culture in Oxfordshire and Berkshire (and probably other areas) of nannies providing wrap-around care. This is where a nanny is employed to work for an hour or so in the morning before school and then three to four hours after school, and are expected to be on call during school hours should a child become ill, whilst only being paid for 4-5 hours a day. When working in London, I wasn’t aware of these kinds of jobs and found when I moved out of town that full-time nanny jobs were mostly for pre-nursery aged children.
  5. I chose a job in childcare because I have always loved working with children and babies. From an early age I found them fascinating, and working with them has allowed me to observe them and gain more and more understanding of how they grow and develop. I never knew that I would take my many years of experience as a nanny on to provide coaching and support for families who are having difficulties with their babies and children.
  6. The one thing I never leave the house without is baby wipes. And a sling if I am out with my toddler. I think more nannies should use slings and carriers. They are particularly good for doing short trips, like going from the car to the school or shops, rather than lugging heavy car seats around. They also give the babies a better view of the world and allow them to communicate more with their carer as they are closer to you. Slings aren’t just for mums and dads!
  7. My best memory from working in childcare is the time I went on holiday with a family to Cornwall and my bedroom in the huge house we were staying in had an en-suite with a roll-top bath. When everyone went out, and I had some downtime, I lay in the bath looking out across the water at the sailing boats and St Mawes on the other side of the estuary. It was stunning. And the family I was working with were lovely, so it was a lovely working holiday.
  8. The funniest/strangest thing that has happened to me while working in childcare happened when I had my first nanny job in London in 1994 and I would be locked downstairs with the children while the parents had secret meetings up on the first floor. There was lots of chanting and weird music and to this day, I have no idea what was going on.
  9. My top tip for calming an upset child is to let them cry and let out how they are feeling, while you offer them comfort rather than trying to distract them. A lot of people try to stop children from crying and tell them not to be upset, but I think that this is counterproductive as it stops them from learning to process their emotions, meaning that they will always struggle to calm down. I worked this out early in my career when I was working as a nanny, and now that I work as a sleep and behaviour coach, it is something that I use every day with my clients.
  10. My top advice for parents wanting to employ a nanny is: Interview as many nannies as you can so that you get the best one for your family. Once you have chosen one, have them over for dinner so that you can get to know them a bit better before getting them to sign a contract.
  11. My top advice for parents new to working with a nanny: Think really carefully about exactly what you want your nanny to do. Write down exactly what their duties are, show them how you like things done and let them know early on if you aren’t happy with how they do things. The only way they are going to change is if you tell them early on, before they get stuck in their ways. If you let things go, they are harder to change later on.
  12. Red flags I would warn nannies to look out for: Parents unwilling to sign your contract or wanting to pay you cash. And parents who get home a couple of minutes before your workday is meant to end and then want to stand and chat for ages.
Dee Booth is a highly experienced professional childcarer who has worked with children for over 20 years. Dee originally worked as a nanny for many years where she quickly assimilated all the necessary skills to become highly popular, both with children and parents alike. During this time, she developed a unique approach to one of the key problem areas of childcare with young children relating to sleep and general behaviour up to the age of 11. This led to Dee setting up SleepFairyParentRescue.co.uk which has gone on to become a highly successful operation. The
company now has a team of experienced “Sleep Fairies” practising Dee’s tried and tested techniques. Dee offers general guidance to parents, to avoid falling into bad habits, or to nip niggles in the bud, giving parents a greater understanding of their children’s needs and confidence in their own parenting skills.

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