Nannying during lockdown: NQN Alice's story
18 September 2020
In this series, Norlanders and Newly Qualified Nannies share their different experiences of nannying during lockdown.
Alice (Set 40) was a live-out Newly Qualified Nanny (NQN) based in London’s Notting Hill when lockdown began, caring for twin girls who are now 2 years old and their baby sister who is 3 months old. She became a fully qualified Norlander in September, having completed her NQN year to earn her Norland Diploma.
“My lockdown experience took place in London with me driving to and from my employer’s apartment each day, which limited contact with the wider world and allowed us to all remain as safe as possible. I think nannies everywhere will agree that working during lockdown was a unique and, at times, challenging experience – from getting used to the girls’ parents working from home, to not being able to go to groups and playdates anymore. Despite these challenges, I found lockdown to be a mostly positive experience. It has definitely helped me to build on my relationship with my employers; giving us more time to chat and interact throughout the day. I also believe it enabled my employers to gain an even better understanding of my role and all that it entails.
“My training enabled me to put into practice all that I learnt during my time at Norland”.
Our weekly routine changed drastically during this period. Before lockdown, we used to be very busy going to different parks, museums, classes (ballet, music, yoga) and playdates. Sadly, this all stopped almost immediately. Our weeks became a lot less ‘action packed’ but the contrast showed us that you can still have a fulfilling day without being continually busy, something I believe has benefited the girls enormously. I established a new routine for our lockdown days consisting of daily walks in the morning and then a home activity in the afternoon, such as playing with cooked spaghetti, painting and a range of other age-related activities. Nothing was ever set in stone. If the children were particularly interested in an activity, I would extend it further. So, whilst my weekly plans were used as a guide, I found that I had to become a bit more creative with ideas to keep the children engaged and having fun!
Having no garden and limited outdoor access meant that it was very important for us to get outside in other ways. One of these was by bringing the outside indoors. Our tuff tray was invaluable, and we would use it to garden. We planted sunflower seeds in window boxes and watched them grow; taking this activity further the girls measured themselves against the flowers. We then extended this to other activities about our bodies. We began drawing around their bodies and labelling body parts. We also grew cress seeds, and these were particularly easy to sow and then eat! The girls loved playing with the soil, adding a little water and feeling how it changed when wet then allowing it to dry, thus bringing in early stages of science through indoor gardening.
One of our all-time favourite indoor activities was when the girls and I constructed an indoor beneath the sea scene based on the book Rainbow Fish. We made both 2D and 3D fish. Hanging netting from the ceiling as the water and hanging strands of ‘seaweed’ from the netting kept the girls, myself and their parents entertained for days. I plan on taking this activity further at some point and intend to re-use the netting as sky and am already thinking of using the book Little Cloud to create some cotton wool ‘shape’ clouds.
“Knowing that the tutors were always readily available for advice was invaluable whilst at college and, most importantly, during my NQN year.”
While the ages of the children has meant I haven’t had to explicitly explain coronavirus to them, I have had to explain to them the limitations which have affected them, such as no more classes. We continued with our various clubs online where possible, or we recreated our own versions at home. I would explain the limitations to them each day, always using positive language and actions. The twins kept each other company, so whilst they were unable to be in a large social environment, they were able to continue to communicate with each other!
My biggest personal achievement was learning to overcome the loneliness that lockdown imposed, only travelling from work to home by car and then spending weeknights and weekends on my own. This made me realise how hard this period was for people living alone, who rely on getting out for company. Both my own family and friends helped me enormously during this period, video calls were definitely my lifeline and yoga via Zoom with my Norland friends was always fun!
Reflecting on this time further, I think the main things I have learnt is how adaptable I can be and how organised I am. I also discovered that I am able to interact with my nanny family with confidence. My training enabled me to put into practice all that I learnt during my time at Norland, including the skills I developed during the various placements I attended. Knowing that the tutors were always readily available for advice was invaluable whilst at college and, most importantly, during my NQN year.
“It provided me with the opportunity to spend more time with my charges and to plan a wide range of activities, which helped me to recognise how adaptable and confident I had become.”
I made sure that I had plenty of age-appropriate activities up my sleeve to help entertain my charges over those unusual three months! I had also purchased a range of craft resources before lockdown which enabled us to explore our environment and the wider world whilst staying safe, making sure the girls were surrounded by sights, smells and experiences which encouraged their speech, motor skills and general development.
Without doubt at the start of lockdown, with all the uncertainties it brought, I was worried that the coming months would go slowly, especially as we were not keeping to our usual busy schedule and being restricted to an apartment. However, I quickly found fun and interesting ways for us to fill our time and I really do believe the children have thrived. However, having been restricted to only seeing their parents and me for the past three months, they are certainly benefiting from seeing their friends again now!
On reflection, it was a very interesting time with many highs and lows. Although it was very lonely at times (I’m sure many people will agree with this) and I struggled with not seeing my friends or family, it was a positive experience overall. It provided me with the opportunity to spend more time with my charges and to plan a wide range of activities, which helped me to recognise how adaptable and confident I had become. So, whilst I wouldn’t rush to be in lockdown again, it was a positive time in its own unique way!”