In this series, Norlanders and Newly Qualified Nannies (NQNs) share their different experiences of nannying during lockdown.

Philippa (Set 39) was working as live-in Newly Qualified Nanny (NQN) during the nationwide lockdown from March, caring for two children now aged four and two. She was furloughed for the first two months of the lockdown period, after which she returned to her post. Philippa completed her NQN year in July and is now a fully qualified Norlander, or Norland Nanny.

“During the time that I was furloughed, I moved into my boyfriend’s flat near to my nanny family. Although I wasn’t working, I kept myself busy by preparing meal and activity plans, sewing of all kinds, and making little projects for the children, including a quilt. I only saw the children and the family twice for 30 minutes (socially distanced) during this time, which felt very strange as I usually live with them. It was hard at first, but we soon got used to it.

“Nannying during lockdown was challenging, interesting, emotional and, in some ways, no different to normal life.”

When I returned to the family, none of the normal external activities were going on, such as my older charge’s swimming lessons, ballet lessons or nursery, and my younger charge’s music and sports classes. Therefore, we did lots more at home, averaging about three activities a day, which took more time to plan but was also very fun. We learned all sorts of new things, such as riding bikes, ran around lots and pursued other activities that supported their learning and development.

Whilst we were unable to see any friends on play dates or at nursery, we occasionally saw friends socially distanced across the other side of the fence, which the children seemed to understand. But it was a strange time for them, and they really missed their friends, their classes and nursery. At the same time, they loved the extra time with Mummy and Daddy.

The additional time also enabled me to create a ‘preparing for school book’ with my four-year-old charge who began school in September and is very young for her year. This extra work and time helped her be more prepared in every sense. Each day, for about half an hour, we would do an activity of some sort for school learning, such as writing her name, practising writing numbers, colouring inside the lines and joining up dot to dots. We also focused on emotions by linking each feeling to the right face, including excitement, happiness, sadness, and feeling scared, which will support her holistic development. I also helped her parents with ordering her uniform and sewing in name labels.

Nannying during lockdown was challenging, interesting, emotional and, in some ways, no different to normal life. As a live-in nanny, there has been added pressure on family life because of the pandemic and all of the uncertainties it brings. Not being able to go home at weekends during lockdown was hard, as I hadn’t seen my mum or my dad since the beginning of March and was only able to go to my boyfriend’s flat because I lived with him for the first part of lockdown and we became a support bubble. I didn’t see anyone else in order to protect my nanny family, which was a lonely experience.

“Both personally and professionally, I have taken a lot from this time.”

The main thing I have taken from this time is confidence in my ability to do my job and to provide a rich learning environment for the children without the support of external activities. I haven’t needed all of the extra classes, nursery and other activities and toys; all I’ve needed is my imagination and the love and care I have for my charges.

The things I have taken with me from Norland are a keen interest and understanding of my charges’ holistic development and my extra sewing skills. For example, the school book I’ve created seemed like second nature to me, to come up with these ideas and know exactly what she would need to know. I wouldn’t have got that without Norland training.

In a strange way, I’m quite glad we’ve gone through this time, particularly as my eldest charge has now started school. All of the extra time spent with her was invaluable and I miss that time now that I only see her briefly in the mornings and evenings. This experience also saw my younger charge’s development sky rocket as there has been plenty of time to focus on him and do activities he will enjoy too.

Both personally and professionally, I have taken a lot from this time. I’ll take forward the added imagination my charges and I have developed together, the lessons we’ve learned, the challenges we’ve come through, the simple pleasures that have entertained them and their comforting hugs.”

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