What being a Nanny has taught me

All children are born with this light. An infinite light of possibility. Of dreams, love. . . pure human life.

The other day I was in the library and I heard a dad reading a book with his daughter. When they had finished the dad asked her if she believed in fairies. She said she did and then they continued to have an animated discussion about them. He was asking her all sorts of questions about fairies and she had answers for all of them. This conversation reminded me of a previous conversation I’ve overheard about fairies. Somebody I previously worked for was asked by their three-year old daughter if fairies were real. His answer still makes me so sad. He said, “no they don’t.” Just flat-out no. Later when I asked why he had said this to her, he replied, “I said I’d never lie to her”. . . . I guess I still struggle with this because when I was growing up my mum always encouraged our imagination and never told us that something we believed in wasn’t real or possible. I know everybody has different ways of teaching their children about the world, but I figure that we all to soon figure out how harsh and cruel the world really is. We are all so young and innocent for such a short time. Let their imagination run free, let them create, believe, dream. . . . . . . They are the future.

I’ve worked in childcare for almost seven years now. It’s fair to say it’s been a rocky ride. Childcare is no forking joke. When I was in school I used to think girls chose child care because it was the easy option. Well it’s true, childcare is very easy to get into and for some people, they believe it’s an easy job to do. Well, they aren’t doing it right! Those adorable little people can soon turn into little pickles with the blink of their beautiful baby blues. So why do we do it? Or rather, why do I do it?

As I lay here with a poorly, sleeping, one year old, splayed over my chest, I think about how special this job is. What an absolute honour it is to be welcomed into a family’s home and given their most treasured little person in the entire world. It is a privilege. I’ve always been around lots of children. When I was young I wanted to be a midwife. I was obsessed with babies. . . . anyhow, my life took a different turn, towards nannying. I wanted to look after children, earn money, live away from home and have freedom that you don’t get in a childcare setting. So nannying seemed like a no brainer. I am now in my second nannying job and even though it wasn’t my first choice (hindsight is a wonderful thing!) it has turned out to be the best job I’ve ever had!! I once researched, for an interview, why people wanted to be a nanny. I couldn’t think of the right wording. I found lots of different answers. But after being in the job a little while now, I ultimately think it comes down to unconditional love. You can’t do nannying and not really, truly love caring for little people. I don’t see how its possible. Looking after, lets call him George, for the sake of the blog, George is an absolute delight to look after, he is easy-going and curious. I squidge him every opportunity I get (bless him. he puts up with me so much) and watching his little face as he tries to work things out. When he took his first few independent steps at a sensory class and I had to try not to cry with pride. Seeing his triumphant smile as he finally succeeds at a task. Watching him frowning at strangers whilst they coo in his face, when I look up see he is watching me, or when he stops playing just so he can come and give me a cuddle (best cuddles EVER). . . . . . it lights up my heart. The world is a crazy helta skeleta  ride, and sometimes looking at a child really clarifies whats important and whats not.  I’ll look at him and everything and nothing makes sense all in that moment. Children. Life. They are miraculous.

As with all things in life, they generally teach you something. Caring for children has taught me a lot, not only about myself but about what it means to put others first. Here are the top five things I have learnt:

  1. That I am capable of so much. Children generally keep trying over and over until they achieve something, especially when they are young. They are fearless and will go head first at something new. Just goes to show that if you are persistent and really want something, you’ll do whatever it takes until you get there.
  2. To be happy for no reason. I think we get so caught up in needing a reason to be happy these days. Children are happy to chill in the sandbox in their nappy with a bucket and spade for hours. Or a few crayons and a cardboard box. Or just enjoying running around with you with nothing in particular to do or anywhere to be. . . . . all the simple things that life has to offer. And maybe enjoying having nothing and nowhere to be is just where we should be. Being alive is enough. 
  3. The only moment that counts is the one you’re in. Children don’t think about the next thing that’s going to happen. Nothing is more important to them than the here and now. I think this is an important leaf we can take out of their book.
  4. Kindness without a cost. A lot of children are shy when they first meet you. But once they know that you are good and kind to them, they are soon all to keen to invite you to their princess tea party or show you their favourite toy ever. There is no competition, if you are nice to me then I’ll be nice to you. It’s not tit for tat. I think this is one of the most important lessons. In our society today we often make a lot of preconceptions about people, sometimes even before we’ve even met them. Give people a chance. Don’t paint everybody with the same brush.
  5. Let it go (If you are a parent or nanny then I’m probably not the only one who hears those three words and mentally breaks into song, imitating Elsa). Have you ever told a child off and initially they are unhappy, but sometimes, just less than five minutes later, they want to play again and are all smiley? Well I think it just shows that most things are not worth being unhappy for.


A child can teach an adult three things. 

To be happy for no reason. To always be busy with something. And to know how to demand with all his might, that which he desires. 

– Paulo Coelho

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