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What is A Nanny and Do I Need One?

That time has come, to start thinking about your childcare options but where do you start and what is the best fit for your family? This blog is part of a mini-series where I will discuss the different options out there you have for childcare, of which there is a lot and it can feel very overwhelming! Today I am going to talk about a Nanny, good old Mary Poppins! Having been a Nanny for 20 years I know this world very well!

First you need to decide if you would like to have a male or female, a live in or live out nanny. If you have busy energetic boys you may prefer to have a male figure in the house! many families choose this option! If you have long hours and want overnight care then you should consider a live in. Of course you need to have the space and be comfortable sharing your home. Most nannies will prefer to have their own bathroom if not their own floor as this gives them some privacy. Your nanny will like to have her own space especially on her days off, so be mindful of that and ensure you can give her the space. It is lovely to invite a nanny into your home and make her part of your family so you may find you like to invite her for dinner with you in the evenings or if you get a take away to also include her. So what exactly is a nanny and what is a nanny’s roles and responsibilities? Generally a nanny’s role is to care for your child/ren first and foremost. It is their job to ensure:

  • Healthy meals provided every day for your child/ren

  • They entertain and create a safe and stimulating environment for your child/ren.

  • They can do the nursery and schools runs

  • Ensure your child/ren’s bedroom is clean and a safe environment.

  • Put your child’s laundry away and even keep you up to date if new clothes are needed.

  • Light kitchen duties such as take rubbish out and keep the surfaces/dish washer clear

  • Help and advice with weaning.

  • Potty training your child

  • Check nappies and hygiene equipment is all replenished.

  • Some nannies are required to take care of appointments such as dentist, hair, eye, even shoe fittings.

  • Plan and make play dates with other children

  • Plan outings to various places including play groups and children’s centres

  • Provide educational and fun activities on a daily basis.

  • Homework help

  • Perhaps keep a daily diary for you to see

  • Drive – this is something most families require but not all

You may like your nanny to come away on holiday with you and you will need to discuss this during the interview process, what hours you expect her to work and how the pay will reflect that. I travelled many time with families from skiing trips to summer holidays to state side family visits and as wonderful as holidays are you need to ensure both parties understand what everyone’s roles and duties are. This is your holiday, not the nanny's holiday although time off will still be entitled. Your nanny should be knowledgeable and up to date with developmental milestones, know what your child/ren’s health needs and requirements are. What is not part of a nanny’s job? The parent’s laundry, cleaning the house and preparing meals for you. Of course if your nanny is making a lasagna or cooking some vegetable s/he may just as well make enough for the whole family however this would be a topic of discussion to have during the interview process. It is not the nanny's role to care for your children for free. Please acknowledge overtime as much as you acknowledge any days your nanny is late. Your nanny will appreciate you being home on time, giving warning if you will be late home. So what are the Pros and cons? Pros

  • Financially it can work out cheaper than a nursery if you have more than one child

  • Your children will be bought up at home for longer period of time, in their own environment

  • You won’t have to rush off early in the morning to drop them at daycare or battle through the rush hour traffic to pick up the baby!

  • When your child is sick, you still have cover, nursery will send your baby home!

  • More flexibility with a nanny

  • You have more of a say what your child does during the day and eats

  • All round convenience with having childcare at home

  • Individual attention


  • No back up childcare if your nanny is sick

  • You have to keep on top of the Tax and NI and pension requirements (there are companies that can help sort this out for you such as Nanny Tax)

  • She may be late which puts your day out of whack

Employing a nanny is by far the most expensive, however, if you have more than one child it actually can work out on an even keel with nursery fees. You will be looking at £400 - £650 per week plus NI and tax and food costs. This is based on approx. 50 hours a week and what part of the country you live. London nannies tend to be on a higher salary. If you have a live in nanny you will be liable for “full board”.

You may also like your nanny to be OFSTED registered. Why? Well this way you may be entitled to childcare tax benefits. It is not compulsory of course and this registration is not expensive however your nanny may prefer you to pick up the bill which currently stands at £103.

Equally you may like your nanny to be 1st aid trained. This is required to be updated every 3 years and most nannies will hold the qualification. If you would like it to be update you may find she asks you to pay the bill or at least half. This is up to yourselves and not compulsory the employers should foot the bill.

Of course if you are the stay at home mum and want to hire a nanny you have to think about how this will work. I have experience as a live out, live in and as a nanny with mum at home and many children can find this hard to hang out with nanny when mum is in the other room.

Interviewing a nanny

Take your time, invite her 2 or even 3 times over to your home, spend some time watching her interact with your children and how they respond to her. Ask her about her upbringing and her family ties, beliefs and if she smokes!

Here are some questions you may like to ask...

  1. What are the emergency phone numbers

  2. What would you do in an emergency such as child falls of the swing and bumps his head

  3. What are her approaches to discipline?

  4. If your child was upset and lashed out at nanny what would you do?

  5. Can they cook? What do they like to cook?

  6. What is their idea of a balanced diet/thoughts on sweet treats?

  7. Are they happy to do over time and baby sit or holiday with you?

  8. What activities do they like to do with children

  9. What are there hobbies and interests?

Above all, your nanny needs to be a kind, caring, loving sole, who YOU and YOUR child/ren feel happy and comfortable to be around. S/he should feel part of the family.

Some agencies for you to visit

For help and advice on nanny salary and expenses

London Nanny Agencies

Good luck with your Mary Poppins search and please do share this blog with a friend who may be looking for their Mary Poppins to join the family!


Your Paediatric Sleep Consultant



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