Nannying during lockdown: Norlander Lizzie's story
22 September 2020
In this series, Norlanders and Newly Qualified Nannies (NQNs) share their different experiences of nannying during lockdown.
Lizzie (Set 32) completed her Norland training in 2010. Runner-up Nanny of the Year and recipient of the Highly Commended award at the 2019 Nursery World Awards, Lizzie has nannied for families in Hong Kong and London. She is Senior Membership Ambassador at the British Association for Professional Nannies (BAPN). Since moving back to the UK in 2015, Lizzie has been based in Chiswick as a live-out nanny caring for three boys, now aged ten, eight and five.
“Lockdown has definitely been a challenge with highs and lows but, on the whole, it has been a brilliant learning experience which I will never forget. I feel fortunate that I have an extremely close relationship with my nanny family, and it didn’t faze me at all heading into lockdown with them. I knew it would be an adventure for us all together.
“My Norland training has helped me to stay professional during this difficult time.”
We quickly established a home school routine which worked for us all. A typical day nannying involved starting work as normal at 8am. The children had breakfast, got dressed and ready to start their live video calls with their individual class teachers at 8.30am. This in itself proved challenging at first as we had to ensure each child had their own device to use during the home school period to avoid class clashes. It was also difficult finding a quiet space for them each to work in to ensure they didn’t disturb each other.
The children all had several morning calls and work set from school to do during the school day. I created a timetable for each child, so they knew what was going on. We had a lunch break between 12-1pm each day, which was a great time for us to eat together and discuss what each child had been learning. My employers usually joined us for lunch when they were able to. I’m sure many families found this, but we really enjoyed the extra family time together during lockdown.
Afternoon lessons weren’t quite as intense, and we usually ended up doing art activities together or different lessons. I also found the BBC Bitesize website was brilliant for providing extra learning tools and lessons, which the boys enjoyed. Our home school day finished around 3.30pm. Most days we enjoyed playing football, tennis or basketball in the garden. We also did a lot of baking together which was very enjoyable.
“An important factor that I learnt from my Norland training is that communication and flexibility are key when working as a nanny.”
One of the most special things to come from lockdown has been family evening mealtimes. The children and I prepare dinner for 6pm each evening and everyone sits down together to eat. We really hope this is something that can continue when life starts to return to normal and the boys are back at school.
The children’s routine didn’t change too much apart from not physically attending school, not being able to see their friends or take part in after school activities. We made sure everyone was still in a healthy routine of getting up, dressed and ready for the day in time for home school to begin. My charges also still went to bed at a normal time. One special change my employers added in to the lockdown routine was that on a different evening each child got to stay down and have some special Mummy and Daddy time. They all had one evening each and it worked really well and was enjoyed by everyone.
From a very early stage, my employers and I explained to the children what coronavirus was and how it was going to affect us. We were mindful that the children could be sensitive and may find it frightening when discussing coronavirus. We used videos and visual images that we found online to help explain. The boys were very understanding and quickly adapted to our new normal of staying at home and keeping safe. I am extremely proud of how resilient they have been throughout this strange and difficult time.
I think the biggest challenge for me was managing the ups and downs of my charges’ emotions and my own throughout lockdown. We were thrown into a completely unknown situation that none of us were prepared for. Being housebound has been difficult, especially with three extremely active boys. The garden was a real benefit and we spent as much time as we could out there. I am pleased that I was able to keep a routine in place for everyone and home school was successful for all three children. As a result of spending so much extra time together we have increased our bond.
An important factor that I learnt from my Norland training is that communication and flexibility are key when working as a nanny. These skills have always been essential for my job, but were even more important during lockdown. Before lockdown began, my employers and I had several conversations about our plan moving forward and we always kept each other updated on how we were feeling. My Norland training has helped me to stay professional during this difficult time. It was also beneficial that we had Norland to assist and advise us in a stressful and unknown time. I also found it useful talking to fellow Norlanders about their experiences.
“I feel extremely proud that I successfully managed to work through the pandemic and home school my three charges.”
Lockdown has taught me that I don’t need to constantly entertain my charges. I often put pressure on myself to always be busy and engaged with them, however, I have learnt that it’s also important for me to give them the time and opportunities to explore and discover by themselves, especially now they are growing older and becoming more independent. We have had a lot of extra free time, so it’s been special to play lots of games together but there’s been time to let my charges create their own play from their imaginations.
In the future, I will look back and reflect on my nannying during this time as a positive achievement. I feel extremely proud that I successfully managed to work through the pandemic and home school my three charges. I also feel thankful that I have such a strong relationship with my employers and charges. Each day bought us different and new challenges to face, but we all pulled together. I knew how important it was for me to keep working so that my employers could also keep working.
I worked with my charges’ teachers to provide the children with a balanced curriculum through the home-schooling period. It was difficult at times managing three different age groups and abilities, but we did it. The children particularly enjoyed completing art and physical education activities together. And I enjoyed using resources we already had at home for our activities. I think we will all look back at the fond memories we made together during this time.”
Throughout lockdown and most of 2020, Lizzie has been training for the London Marathon. Unfortunately, the event is no longer going ahead this year, but she is still planning to run the full marathon on 4 October 2020 as part of the London Virtual Marathon to raise vital funds for The Children’s Society. This national charity works with the country’s most vulnerable children and young people and is the BAPN’s adopted charity.Support Lizzie