Life as a Professional Nanny

I am a full-time nanny with sole charge of three children aged 7, 5 and 6 months. This is a job that obviously carries great responsibility and I enjoy the challenge of multi-tasking, prioritising and time-management to meet the family’s varied and complex needs.

I have gained many qualifications over the past ten years, and continue to do so with the aim of knowing as much as I can about children and how I can meet their individual needs. I have an NNEB (Diploma in Nursery Nursing), a degree in Early Childhood (BA Hons.), an Advanced Diploma in Psychology and a Paediatric First Aid certificate. The children that I have worked with have had a variety of unique needs and, since one of the children in my current family has Dyspraxia, my study has proved invaluable.

By far the most important and rewarding aspect of my job is the relationship that I have built with the children and parents that I work with. I have worked as a nanny for about eight years and I have been with my current family for fourteen months. It takes time to establish the trust that we now have in each other and I am convinced that the key to our strong relationship is the honesty and open communication that we have always respected each other with.

Although I have a job description which gives you a flavour of my routines and responsibilities, no day is ever the same, especially since the arrival of the new baby in February. My hours of work are Monday to Friday 8.30am to 6pm.

Childcare: term time

  • I arrive during the family breakfast time and catch up on what has happened overnight / over the weekend.
  • I assemble the eldest children’s packed lunch boxes to include four healthy items.
  • I get the eldest children ready for school, teeth and hair etc.
  • At 9am I walk the children to school (5 minute walk). Once they are safely to school, I assess what needs to be done during the day.
  • The six-month-old baby has milk feeds at 11am, 1pm and 4.30pm accompanied by solids at 1pm and 4.30pm. He generally has a half-an-hour nap mid morning and a longer sleep after lunch, although this is variable.
  • On Tuesdays we go to a mums and tots group; on Thursdays we attend the libraries rhyme time and on Fridays we go swimming. This gives him and me a wonderfully varied and social week full of stimulating first hand experiences.
  • While the baby sleeps I prepare the family’s daily evening meal from scratch, according to a menu devised by mum.
  • I also do routine chores, such as changing the children’s bed linen, mending their clothes, and tidying their bedrooms.
  • Planning activities for after school and holidays, I conduct regular research in order to maintain a folder of information about local attractions and activities suitable for the children in my care. These are considered for their ability to facilitate and provide holistic, fun, learning opportunities for the children. The activities take into consideration the age of the children and how they can be differentiated to meet both the age and ability of a five and a seven year old. During craft activities I encourage the children to use their imagination and create something that is individual and unique. My role is to support them and offer emotional encouragement, time, and patience in order for them to reach their full potential.
  • At 3.30pm I collect the children from school, followed by snack time (e.g. banana chips, raisins, fruit) and discussion of the children’s day, before getting changed to play. What we do after school is often decided by the children, how tired they are and their individual needs at the time. They have a playroom and often choose an imaginative role play instead of a specific activity. I took the initiative of researching local opportunities for children’s swimming lessons, and on Monday afternoons, the eldest children go swimming.
  • The children sometimes have friends over to play after school, or visit a friend’s house. I am responsible for organising these play dates.
  • 5.00pm to 5.45pm is bath time, including hair wash/nails/ears on a Tuesday night.
  • After bath time, I often spend about 15 minutes reading a short story, as a way of settling them before their evening meal, and before I go home at 6pm. If necessary, I also write in the ‘communication diary’ kept in the kitchen, to inform parents of such things as any medication given, any behaviour issues, any special achievements/news, and so on. This keeps everyone in touch, and means that the parents have an insight into how their children’s day has been. This diary supplements a weekly meeting with parents (usually mother) and day-to-day verbal communications.

Childcare: school holidays

The school holidays are challenging and fun! Not only do I have to maintain household routines, such as laundry, I also plan focussed activities and day trips, based on prior research. If the weather is good, then we are outdoors as much as possible. Some of our trips have included going to a small breeds’ farm park, a local National Trust property with a play area, trips to the local stream (with nets and wellies), and visiting the local play park. Other activities have included such things as visiting a local garden centre, with the children choosing plants for their individual pots, making decorations for their bedrooms, painting and sticking, and cooking.

Household management

Whilst childcare is the focus of my energy and attention, I also enjoy doing small extras that help the family home to run smoothly. I have to use my intuitive skills to see what needs doing. These include such things as:

  • Collecting and taking home the lady who does household cleaning two days a week,
  • Bins – emptying and ensuring they are put out for collection,
  • Recycling – organising what can be collected by the council from the home and taking glass to the local recycling site,
  • Bread-making (daily) in the bread machine,
  • Doing all the household laundry.

With my encouragements, the family I work for have chosen to use ‘real’ reusable nappies; I researched some of the options available, and advised the parents accordingly. They had used disposable nappies for the older two children and the benefits of reusable nappies have become clear to us all. After trying a few different types and establishing a routine we would never turn back, the money saved is amazing and they really are no hassle at all.

I hope this gives you an insight in to the busy, rewarding and professional role of a nanny. I would certainly recommend it!

Debbie Darnborough was voted Professional Nanny of the Year 2008 at the recent VOICE Conference.

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