Nannying during lockdown: Chantal’s story as a Newly Qualified Nanny
23 September 2020
In this series, Norlanders and Newly Qualified Nannies (NQNs) share their different experiences of nannying during lockdown.
Chantal (Set 40) is currently a live-in Newly Qualified Nanny (NQN) in South West London, looking after a four-year-old boy and two-year-old girl. She spent the nationwide lockdown that began in March living with her employers. Chantal has already graduated with her Norland degree and will shortly complete her NQN year to earn her Norland Diploma and the professional title Norlander, or Norland Nanny.
“Nannying during lockdown was made up of fun days, filled with activities, laughter, and our all-important daily exercise! I found lockdown had its ups and downs, as I am sure many others did too. Sometimes I would feel grateful for our household’s health, at other times I would feel sad about the normality that had been snatched from us and the classes and social interactions that the children were missing out on. Nannying was the one constant during lockdown that kept me upbeat.
“Above all, Norland’s motto ‘Love Never Faileth’ stuck with me throughout lockdown.”
As soon as lockdown was announced, I felt it was my responsibility to ensure my four-year-old charge was ready for school and that I was there for my other charge too. It was my duty to protect them from the uncertainty and fear that society was facing, although I never anticipated the extent to which the pandemic would take hold and the length of time we would be in lockdown. Looking back over recent months, I can honestly say that lockdown has seen some of my proudest career moments to date. It has been a great opportunity to do lots of new activities with the children and to have a lot of fun together.
During lockdown, when we were only allowed out of the house once a day for exercise, our day would start off with a quiet activity such as playdough or colouring before we headed out. We would walk or scoot to our nearby green spaces. For the rest of the day, we would have three further structured activities involving maths, literacy and/or art as well as lots of free play, reading and playing in the garden. Some days we would combine our outing with walking or scooting to friends’ houses nearby, delivering home baked goods or dropping off pictures that the children had drawn for their friends. This, alongside virtual playdates, allowed my charges to remain connected to their friends and maintained the friendships that they had worked so hard to form. Once restrictions eased, my eldest charge was thrilled to be back at nursery in the afternoon alongside the rest of his ‘bubble’. We now make the most of being able to go out more often, enjoying outdoor activities such as minibeast hunts, paddling in the pond and playing ball games.
Our lockdown routine was unrecognisable compared to the one we had prior to lockdown. My eldest charge would normally have attended nursery every morning as well as two longer days while I took my youngest charge to lots of different play groups and classes. In the afternoons, we would have invited other nannies and their charges around for play dates or we would have visited their houses. We also enjoyed swimming together and, in the school holidays, we would have been in central London, visiting museums, seeing the sights and exploring as we had done in previous half terms. However, COVID-19 clearly put halt to all these plans.
“The resourcefulness I developed throughout my three years at Norland also helped when we could not get hold of certain food items or craft resources.”
It became just the three of us every day with the added gift of having Mama and Daddy working from home. I rapidly had to plan more activities than I was used to as we had a lot more disposable time on our hands at home. I really enjoyed this and had fun creating weekly themes, which all the activities we did revolved around, such as minibeast week, ‘All about me’ week and under the sea week. Having the chance to slow down from the hustle and bustle of normal London life benefitted everyone in our house. It has been lovely to get closer as a family and to get to know each other better. We’ve all looked out for one another, sharing the highs such as mastering potty training, and the lows, such as missing family gatherings.
We used a booklet that my eldest charge was given to explain coronavirus – the symptoms, how it may make the adults around them feel and the importance of hand washing. Written in a simple and age appropriate, yet effective, way to convey the seriousness of the pandemic, my employers and I used this booklet to explain to both children why nursery was closing, why the playgrounds were shut and why they couldn’t see the rest of their family and friends. We made it clear to both children that it was ok to feel frustrated about the virus and that everyone feels that way sometimes.
I knew the biggest challenge for me spending lockdown in London with my nanny family was that it meant I wouldn’t be able to see my own family for months. Although I am in a live–in position, I like to escape London every few weekends and get some country air whilst seeing my family in Wiltshire. It was tough not seeing them for over three months but I am proud of how I managed to get through it with a smile on my face and I would go through it again to ensure that my charges are as safe, happy and loved as they have been during lockdown.
The Norland training helped me during this challenging time as I was able to use the adaptability that I had developed through the varied placements included in the course. This enabled me to quickly rethink our weekly plans to ensure the children were still thriving without nursery, playgroups and classes. The resourcefulness I developed throughout my three years at Norland also helped when we could not get hold of certain food items or craft resources. I swiftly found alternatives so that the children did not sense the difficult situation unfolding in the outside world.
“Lockdown highlighted to me how much I adore my career and that providing a stimulating and nurturing environment for the children in my care brings me much joy and happiness.”
The lifelong friends I made at Norland, due to its close-knit community, many of whom were also working nearby were critical. These friends, as well as other nannies I have met during my NQN year, have been invaluable to me over the past few months. Having a friendly face nearby to wave to made being away from my own family a lot easier, as I know many of my peers would agree. Having others who were in the same situation as me, in lockdown with their employers and charges, was useful as we could discuss our planning and ideas whilst being able to empathise and relate to one another and boost morale as a cohort.
Above all, Norland’s motto ‘Love never Faileth’ stuck with me throughout lockdown. Whenever I felt a pang of longing for normality or a wave of missing my family, I just thought of how much I love my charges and my career and that feeling provided me with enough strength to continue through adversity, looking after the children in my care to the best of my ability. ‘Strength in Adversity’ is Norland’s other motto.
Lockdown highlighted to me how much I adore my career and that providing a stimulating and nurturing environment for the children in my care brings me much joy and happiness. I now realise that my desire to care for and protect children is deeply rooted in me and is something I will continue to do throughout my years as a nanny and beyond. Having a prominent weekly theme is something that I will continue to do going forward as my charges enjoyed these and the structure they provided.
I never envisaged a global pandemic and a national lockdown taking place during my NQN year, but it has provided me with many fond memories of activities that the children and I enjoyed, walks and scoots we went on together, homemade bakes that we dropped off to neighbours and games nights with my employers. Overall, I would say nannying through the lockdown of 2020 was definitely an unexpected adventure!”Follow Chantal on Instagram